April 16, 2010


Dispatches From the Tea Party Express (Benjamin Sarlin, 4/15/10, Daily Beast)

The number one source of both youth and color at the rally were young entrepreneurs selling bright yellow “Don’t Tread on Me Flags” to protesters for a commission. I approached several of them, each of whom was careful to disassociate himself or herself from the rally—or at least appear diplomatic.

“No way,” Mark, a 25-year old African American flag salesman, responded when asked if he agreed with the protesters. As for his own views: “I plea the Fifth.”

“I find them interesting,” Gules, a French immigrant who looked to be in his early 20s, said of the Tea Partiers as he waved a handful of the flags. “There are two sides to every issue.”

The merchants were greeted with skepticism at times, however. “Are you with ACORN?” Jack Staver, a 56-year-old attendee from Woodstock, Georgia, said to a young dark-skinned flag salesman.

“I am very suspicious,” Staver, who works as an instructor on compliance with OSHA standards, told me afterward. His chief concern was that the merchants might be anti-Tea Party infiltrators, sent in to sell flags with pointed edges on the hopes that police would then declare them as weapons and use it as pretext to arrest protesters. “This is what they do, they take a good thing and flip it,” he said.

Indeed, the infiltration concept was a frequent topic of discussion among the crowd. Reports this week that a group of pranksters were planning to crash Tea Parties with crazy signs and slogans had attendees on high alert.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2010 6:25 AM
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