Article: Tea, Green Parties Don’t Mix

Article by Louisa Hufstader, Napa Patch
(pictured at right is Fairfax Green City Councilmember Larry Bragman, who spoke at the Green Party rally.)

The national tea party movement held what was billed as a major rally in Napa Saturday, but the promised thousands of conservative voters failed to turn up.

Police and newspaper estimates placed the crowd at the Napa Valley Exposition at about 600, with another 200 Green Party, Democratic and union activists demonstrating in opposition outside the Expo fence.

However, Alex Shantz of the Napa County Green Party said the size of the counter-demonstration was closer to 300.

While the protesters outside chanted, marched, waved signs and even briefly displayed a giant inflatable rat, the tea party rally on the Expo grounds featured heavily-amplified singers and speakers, two gleaming “Tea Party Express” buses and a mammoth American flag.

Across the Napa River in Veterans Memorial Park, the planned “Green tea party” counter-rally was a comparatively tepid affair, with what appeared to be fewer than half the number of people that had taken part in the protest outside the Expo. 

The tea party rally had leather-lunged media personalities and Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who led the mostly gray-haired crowd in singing “God Bless America” and mocked the counter-demonstrators, saying “they must only have been paid for an hour.” 

The Green Party rally had a folksinger, members of the local Dream Act coalition and state party stalwarts including Fairfax mayor Larry Bragman, who spoke at length and more than once argued that the tea party and Green Party can be allies on issues like the Pacific Gas & Electric “smart meters,” which both sides oppose.

The rally at the Expo had the upper hand in numbers and sound volume, but the counter-demonstration in the park had something the tea party didn’t: A police observer stationed on the roof of the Riverfront with binoculars and a cell phone.

"People from the Green Party told us that there was a guy yelling at them while they were setting up," said Napa police commander Steve Potter in an email exchange with Napa Patch Sunday.

"We wanted to make sure everyone was safe and to identify any troublemakers early."

After a couple of hours, the officer had little to observe after protesters again marched from downtown to the Expo, leaving only a handful of people who had set up information tables in the park

Potter issued a press release Sunday morning saying, in part:

The Napa Police Department monitored the events while the members of the political parties exercised their constitutional rights of assembly and speech.

Temporary roadway closures took place on Burnell Street and Third Streets while these rights were exercised.

Each party provided their own group monitors and managed their own group’s activity.

According to the release, there were "no physical confrontations or other illegal acts" during the dueling rallies.

"I think all of the groups did a very good job managing their own invited guests," Potter added in his email to Napa Patch.