That was the message that politicians should have received from the lame attempt at a protest yesterday afternoon in front of Houston’s City Hall. I’ll be generous and guess that there were around 400 “protesters” attending the rally, warning politicians not to cut spending. Of course, you can’t have a protest without a counter protest these days and this one wasn’t an exception. Between 150 and 200 counter protesters from the King Street Patriots, Kingwood Tea Party Inc, and the Texas Tea Party PAC were there warning politicians to cut spending.
The start of the rally wasn’t very promising. I doubt that there were 100 people there at the announced starting time of 4:30 pm. The organizers made an announcement saying that they had made a mistake on their permit and that they couldn’t use the sound system until 5:00 pm. More protesters drifted in and then the SEIU group arrived to much fanfare, chanting and beating a drum. Quick clip:
The rally finally started with a couple of folk singers singing a homemade union tune, I forget the name. They sounded okay and the crowd started to get into it. Then the Master of Ceremonies Geoff Berg, host of Partisan Gridlock on KPFT, took the mic and all hell broke loose. Well, not really much hell but a little controversy did arise and one guy was arrested.
At first I thought that he wasn’t with the counter protesters because his actions were very odd, I’ve never seen him before, and no one I talked to knew who he was. But then I scanned through my pictures and found one of him earlier in the rally talking to one of the counter protesters. He was holding a flag that said “Tea Party” in block letters and had a Lipton Tea bag stapled to it. So then I decided he was part of the counter protesters. But after finding out who he was, I can, thankfully, say that he was NOT a part of the counter protesters.
His name is Dan Cupp and he ran for Mayor in 2009. He even has a website of sorts. As Mr. Berg was speaking, I noticed that Mr. Cupp had walked in front of the crowd and was pointing his camera at them and raising that little flag of his – he also had a bullhorn, although I never saw him use it. Well, this is just bad manners and it is asking for trouble. When he started filming Mr. Berg, several ladies from the Houston Black American Democrats started putting their umbrellas in front of his camera. Their actions must have ticked him off because he started moving toward the stage – they followed, he moved closer, etc. Mr. Berg acknowledged his presence, and their attempts to block him, telling them to let him film but they persisted in blocking him. So he moved closer and then the chaos started. A woman hit him on his arm, then a guy came in and pushed him backwards. It got crowded after that and I couldn’t see what was happening. Then Harris County AFL-CIO president E. Dale Wortham entered the fray and suddenly Mr. Cupp started swinging wildly and ran at the stage, at which point he was tackled. ABC13 has one angle on video:
I had my recorder with me and turned it on when I realized something was not right. Here is my video, you can see Mr. Wortham approach, then the chaos, then the tackle and he is led away.
Two things to note. First and foremost, Mr. Cupp was not with the counter protesters and to the best of my knowledge has never been involved with any organized Tea Party. Thank goodness for that. Second, although the ladies with the umbrellas escalated this incident, he should not have gone to the front of that rally with a Tea Party flag. He just shouldn’t have. Like I said, that is bad manners and asking for trouble. He got it and he got arrested for his efforts. Perhaps he learned a lesson.
I thought that the organizers handled it well, although Mr. Berg did use the occasion to utter a vulgarity towards the counter protesters. Some things you cannot change.
The next speaker up was Sylvia Garcia and one thing she said cracked me up. She said something about how she used to work at city hall and knows a little something about budgets. Seriously? Ask Jack Morman what sort of mess she left for him to try and clean up. Good grief.
By this time it was 5:40 and I’d already been standing around for almost 2 hours, so I had to head home. The ol’ back just ain’t what it used to be. Maybe there was something worthwhile that I missed but I doubt it. This isn’t outrage folks – 400 people on a beautiful day in downtown Houston after work? C’mon.
If you want outrage, think about the tens of thousands of people that turned out to protest President Obama’s reckless spending and mutilation of our healthcare system. That was and remains an outrage worth protesting. Texas politicians would do well to remember that.
Here is a little slide show (well, okay, it isn’t exactly little) from the pictures I took. Have a great day!