As people rushed to put their tax filings in the mail by today's deadline at the post office on Black Avenue, hundreds of people were protesting increased taxes across the street at one of several Bay Area "TEA parties." The event is scheduled to go on until 6 this evening.
The group, Taxed Enough Already, is a nationwide movement channeling the original tea party of 1773 when Americans dumped tea to protest Britain's tea tax. Bridget Melson, a Pleasanton resident who operates a psychiatric practice in the city, helped organize what she called a bipartisan event.
"[Originally I expected about 60 to 100 people, but over 2,000 have registered," she said at the protest. "The public needs to understand how fed up we are. We all know we need to pay taxes. We all wanted common people to have a voice."
Melson said the feedback from her involvement was "99 percent positive," but that they also alerted police of some threats to interrupt the protest. There were several police officers patrolling the park, as well as the nearby neighborhoods.
Participants held signs, many adorned with tea bags, and several lined the sidewalks of Santa Rita Road, encouraging drivers to honk in support. The number of sign holders and cars honking were said to have significantly increased throughout the day.
A small stage was home to several speakers, including Melson, KSFO DJ Brian Sussman, local business owner Judy Lloyd and San Ramon Mayor H. Abram Wilson.
Also speaking was Lance Buckley, who got the crowd cheering when he spoke of bringing common sense back to government and wanting elected officials to read the bills and laws they pass.
"We are the people, the first branch of government," he said. "Government, you work for us."
Gllen MacDonald, a Danville resident who came with wife Merrily, is a tax specialist. Even though Wednesday was the busiest day of the year for him, he said it was important that he attend his first-ever protest.
"My clients are being killed with taxes," he said. "They only go up."
Pleasanton resident Alan Wiese was in attendance to be heard.
"It seems taxation is punishing those working hard and achieving, and rewarding those who don't," he said. "It seems backwards."
"Passing laws to tax individuals, it's a slippery slope," he added. "It's like they penalize anyone who doesn't believe their ideology."
A booth with petitions against Pleasanton school parcel tax Measure G and other area initiatives was set up at the event, with dozens of people waiting in line to sign. When asked if he was supporting Measure G, Wiese said no and that he wouldn't support it even if the economy were better.