Posted: April 15, 20095:31 pm Eastern
By Chelsea Schilling and Alyssa Farah Â© 2009 WorldNetDaily
SACRAMENTO â€“ Americans took to the streets to protest wasteful government spending today â€“ with estimated crowd sizes of 5,000 to 15,000 in Atlanta, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Olympia, Wash., Lansing, Mich., Kansas City and St. Louis, Mo., and Sacramento.
At the California Capitol, a sea of red, white and blue U.S. flags waved above a large crowd that surrounded the building and spilled into city streets. Visitors arrived in yellow school buses from surrounding cities.
Sacramento tea party organizer Mark Meckler scanned the scene from behind a platform before the event.
"It's unreal. It's beyond my imagination," Meckler told WND with a dazed look. "I can't imagine anything better than this."
Some protesters shouted at the Capitol building with megaphones: "Hey, tell Gov. Schwarzenegger to come out here!"
"We are leading a revolution, and this is the first day of that revolution," Meckler said. "Politicians will no longer be able to divide our nation. They are taking our money, and we aren't going to stand here and take it anymore."
With booming enthusiasm, the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance and began wildly chanting, "USA, USA, USA!"
Their voices could be heard from blocks away as the California legislature remained in session and lawmakers dared not venture outside.
Local businessmen, families with small children, military veterans and elderly men and women carried handmade signs with a variety of creative messages.
After speaking with WND, Meckler climbed the stage and asked the crowd, "How many of you have never been to a protest before?"
The crowd erupted in cheers as thousands of tea partiers raised their hands.
"Our politicians think that you don't pay enough taxes," Meckler said. "As we stand outside, the California legislature is in session."
The crowd let out a thunderous "boo."
"We've had it!" Meckler shouted. "We're tired of being punished by politicians!"
They cheered wildly and drowned out Meckler's voice, chanting, "Vote them out!"
Guests included Michael Reagan, Rep. Tom McClintock, singer Lloyd Marcus and Fox News' Neil Cavuto.
"In the 27 years since I came to this building, I have never seen a protest this large," McClintock said. "The silent majority is no longer silent."
He continued, "Some time along the way, we lost our country. Don't you think it's time to take it back?"
The crowd applauded with excitement.
Air Force reservist Sgt. Kevin Steele told WND he returned from his second tour in Iraq two weeks ago.
"I think this is just wonderful to see," he said. "I'm disappointed to see how much things have deteriorated since I left."
Asked for his thoughts on the Department of Homeland Security report warning against the possibility of violence by unnamed "right-wing extremists" and specifically singling out returning war veterans as particular threats, Steele said he was baffled and felt a deep sense of betrayal.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I'm the guy they're watching now? Give me a break!"
He continued, "You can send me over there and put a weapon in my hands, and now you worry about me? It's disappointing and disheartening."
California Highway Patrol officers, sheriffs and horse-mounted city police surrounded the event on all sides. There were no noticeable arrests or acts of violence at the tea party.
One Highway Patrolman told WND there were more than 5,000 people at the event.
Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., 1,000 people huddled beneath umbrellas in Lafayette Park across from the White House. The crowd consisted of a broad variety of protesters of different ages, nationalities and political parties.
When the crowd was asked, several Democrats indicated that they were present as part of the protest. Many parents brought their children along, who were also carrying signs and chanting.
Speakers at the D.C. event included talk-show host Laura Ingraham, Alan Keyes and Grover Norquist.
The rally combined with another Washington, D.C., party after Secret Service members revoked a permit to meet outside the U.S. Department of Treasury.
One tea partier, Rusty Carrier, allowed all employees at his Culpepper, Va., farm to take the day off and attend the protest. Carrier said he felt the pains of high taxation and the government's reckless spending.
"I don't travel to D.C. very often because I can't do it," he told WND. "Unlike the government, I don't spend money I don't have.
In Tennessee, an overwhelming crowd of 10,000 people met on the Legislative Plaza, spilling into sidewalks and up the hill toward the Capitol building, Americans for Tax Reform reported. Cars circled the area, honking horns.
In Rochester, N.Y., 1,000 tea partiers marched on the county administration building and city hall.
Approximately 4,000 people crowded Fountain Square in Cincinnati, while 8,000 gathered in Madison, Wis., 5,000 surrounded the Oklahoma Capitol and 4,000 attended the Chicago party. Even Rhode Island, the smallest U.S. state, brought 1,000 protesters to its Capitol.
Washington state police estimated crowds of 5,000 in Olympia while 2,500 marched the streets of Boise, Idaho and 1,500 rallied in Austin, Texas. In Lansing, Mich., throngs were measured at 7,000, while 3,000 gathered in Hartford, Conn., and 2,000 Floridians in Jacksonville poured wagons of tea into the St. Johns River.
An additional 1,000 people packed into Market Square in Pittsburgh, Pa., while some 3,000 gathered in Des Moines, Iowa, and 1,500 gathered in Louisville, Ky. There are reports of 7,000 at the North Houston tea party and 5,000 in Phoenix, Ariz., while organizers announced that 8,000 people showed up at the tea party in St. Louis, Mo., and an additional 8,000 tea partiers rallied in Kansas City. An estimated 7,500 packed the Central Valley tea party in California.
The Atlanta event may have been among the largest tea parties, in part because of the presence of conservative talk show host Sean Hannity, who broadcast live from the Georgia Capitol and estimated crowd size at 15,000. Also, as many as 15,000 crowded around the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, as nationally syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck aired his television show there.
Across the nation, thousands of tea partiers sang the national anthem, recited the Pledge of Allegiance and chanted while waving U.S. flags and displaying homemade signs.