On the afternoon of Monday, June 6, a crowd gathered on the generally quiet 15th Street in Modesto, California, across from state Senator Anthony Cannella’s office. On one side of the street, close to the Senator’s office, was a small group of seven from the Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity (the front group funded by the Koch Brothers), and on the other side of the street was the significantly larger counter-demonstration consisting of 65 people from labor groups, faith-based groups, senior citizens’ organizations, and local educators.
Both sides were there for one reason: to show their support for or opposition to Governor Brown’s proposed revenue extensions. The Tea Partiers were bemoaning the extensions (which they represent as “new” taxes), with signs exclaiming “We are taxed enough already” and “No new taxes”.
The counter-demonstration was organized by Health Access and allied groups, supported by Congregations Building Communities, Valley Progressives, the North Valley Labor Federation, the California Association of Retired Americans, United Domestic Workers, and more such groups of citizens. They stood in solidarity for the hour-long demonstration, chanting their message with phrases such as “Stop the Drop!” and “Tax the oil, tax the booze, save the services that we all use!” and holding up signs urging passers-by to honk for a fair budget.
Touching accounts of the ways in which budget cuts have harmed individuals, their families, and their communities were given by senior citizens, disabled persons, educators, and other hard working members of the community. There was a strong overall sense of solidarity within the counter-demonstration, which really spoke to the gravity of the situation being faced by the various groups suffering from the effects of the failing budget.
Along with representatives of several local media outlets, Senator Cannella’s Deputy Chief of Staff shuttled back and forth between the two groups and listened to what the people had to say. Senator Cannella, a Republican, has shown some inclination to taking into account the needs of his constituents prior to assuming a position on the budget.
For more information on the event, check out the Capital Public Radio story at http://www.capradio.org/articles/2011/06/06/dueling-rallies-target-potential-state-budget-swing-vote
(Reported by Health Access intern Nikita Khetan)