CINCINNATI — Tea party activists waving flags and signs, singing patriotic songs and chanting anti-IRS slogans held rallies outside federal buildings across the country Tuesday to protest the agency’s extra scrutiny of conservative groups.
A crowd packed the sidewalks in front of and across the street from a Cincinnati federal building housing the Internal Revenue Service offices that handled tax-exempt status applications.
“It’s going to be up to the grass-roots movement to do something,” said Paul Wheeler, dressed in Colonial-era attire with tri-cornered hat and holding a sign saying: “Internal ‘Revenge’ Service Stop.” He said he came from Indianapolis, some 100 miles way, because Cincinnati is “the epicenter of some of the complaints.”
IRS officials have acknowledged that some conservative groups received inappropriate attention.
There were also rallies outside IRS offices in Philadelphia; Atlanta; Louisville; Chicago; Cherry Hill, N.J.; Denver; Kansas City, Mo.; Helena, Mont.; Phoenix, and Providence, R.I., among others.
After a short march, activists in Cleveland filled sidewalks in front of the federal building for about 30 minutes. Some had Revolutionary War-style “Don’t Tread on Me” and 13-star U.S. flags, as they chanted “IRS has got to go!” and “Stop the IRS!” Demonstrators also sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” ”God Bless America” and other songs.
A handful of activists gave a Federal Protective Service officer a petition calling for the IRS to “cease and desist” and asked him to deliver it to the IRS. The officer later handed it to a man in street clothes farther inside the building.
“I don’t know if we made a difference, but I’m sure proud that we all came out,” the Cincinnati tea party president, Ann Becker, told fellow demonstrators.
Several IRS employees in Cincinnati declined to comment or didn’t return phone messages.