Article: Protesters march against Tea Party Express

By Kerana Todorov, Napa Valley Register

With signs that read “Tax the Rich,” “Drink Wine, Not Tea”  and “The Tea Party is Over,” more than 200 protesters marched Saturday from downtown to Napa Valley Expo to demonstrate against the Tea Party Express rally.

Protesters chanted, “They say cut back, we say fight back,” as they marched over the Third Street Bridge.
Members of the counter-rally, including Democrats, labor representatives and some Green Party members, chanted for more than an hour on Burnell Street, just a few hundred feet from some 600 tea party faithful inside the Expo. A giant inflatable rat with an anti–Wall Street message towered above the protesters.
Chris Benz, 56, of Napa, came with a friend, Jeanette Nuss, out of concern about the tea party. “I’m scared of what the tea party is trying to do. I don’t think they’re supporting real American values,” said Benz, a winemaker.
“They’re dividing this country,” said Nuss, 77.
Bob Jones of Napa came with his wife, Linda, and their two daughters: Megan, a recent UC San Diego graduate, and Molly, a senior at Vintage High School, who carried a sign that read “Think outside the Fox.”
“I think it’s terrible that they decided to throw this event in Napa,” Bob Jones said.
The counter-rally included various union members with signs. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Brian Petersen, a plumber, who came with fellow union members from Martinez.
Guillermo Rosas, a 19-year-old Napa Valley College student, said he and his friends wanted to send the message that “the tea party does not have support here in Napa.”
The marchers included Napa Councilwoman Juliana Inman and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.
“We want to be sure that the tea partiers coming to Napa County know there are other voices and other viewpoints,” said Yamada, who will run in 2012 in the new 4th Assembly District that includes Napa. “We both want the same thing, but we go about it in different ways.”
Saturday’s events also included a Green Party rally at Veterans Memorial Park on Main Street. Speakers included Larry Bragman, mayor of Fairfax; Laura Wells, 2010 Green gubernatorial candidate; and student members of the Napa Valley Dream Act Coalition, a group that campaigns for immigration reform to help undocumented students.
Dianne Rubins of Berryessa Highlands came to the Green rally with her husband, Jim. “They have a right to be here — just like we do,” she said of the tea party group. “We just need to be louder,” she added with a laugh.
Shortly after 1 p.m., more than 50 people from the Green rally marched from the park to the Expo’s Burnell Street entrance as the rally was winding down.
The Napa Police Department, which monitored the day’s events, reported no physical confrontations and no arrests.
Register staff writer James Noonan contributed to this story.