PHOENIX — About 70 tea party activists waving signs and small American
flags marched outside Phoenix’s main Internal Revenue Service office Tuesday to
protest the agency’s extra scrutiny of conservative groups.
The rally was one of many around the country after IRS officials acknowledged
that some conservative groups received inappropriate attention and questioning.
Some of the protesters in Phoenix held signs saying “We Will Not Back Down,”
and one woman carried an umbrella with fake dollar bills stuck to it. On the
dollars were written “Defund IRS” in large red letters.
The group marched up and down a busy central Phoenix street during the lunch
hour, blasting air horns at passing cars.
Many activists said the IRS overreached with their actions against the tea
party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
“What the IRS did, it’s totally disgusting,” said Rick Galeener, who calls
himself “Buffalo Rick” and hands out business cards stating that he’s a
disabled Vietnam veteran and “100 percent able American Patriot.”
Kevin Kirkpatrick, a retired airline pilot, rallied alongside his wife.
“The IRS should not have that kind of power. They should just be a taxing
agent,” he said. “I don’t think they should have the ability to control our
First Amendment rights.”
Mary Beth Smith, surrounded by other tea party activists, said: “We won’t give
up without a fight. I don’t care if the IRS audits me. Maybe they already have.
I gave to some of the organizations they investigated.”