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Anti-tax protesters vent ire

Ten-year-old Konnor Kirkwood of Marengo holds a Gadsden Flag while sitting on the shoulders of his father, John, during the protest against taxes Wednesday at the intersection of Route 14 and Main Street in Crystal Lake. The historical Gadsden Flag, reading "Don't Tread on Me," has become a symbol for the anti-tax tea party movement, according to americanflags.com.
Ten-year-old Konnor Kirkwood of Marengo holds a Gadsden Flag while sitting on the shoulders of his father, John, during the protest against taxes Wednesday at the intersection of Route 14 and Main Street in Crystal Lake. The historical Gadsden Flag, reading "Don't Tread on Me," has become a symbol for the anti-tax tea party movement, according to americanflags.com.
>> Click here for video from the tax rally>> Click here to see more photos from the rally

CRYSTAL LAKE – A throng of people waved signs and tea bags on tax day to protest government spending.

The gathering at the corner of Route 14 and Main Street in Crystal Lake started with a dozen protesters at noon Wednesday and quickly swelled.

The ranks spread up and down the block from Home State Bank on the southeast corner of the intersection.

As the crowd grew, motorists showed their support by honking horns or shouting out.

Protesters here were joined by thousands of others in cities across the country holding Tax Day Tea Parties as part of a conservative movement reacting to a $3 trillion federal budget and $787 billion stimulus package.

“This is a spontaneous upsurge; it grew like a weed,” said local organizer Jim Thompson, who had expected fewer than 50 people to assemble.

Among the larger of more than 750 parties planned for Wednesday, frustrated taxpayers turned out in droves for rallies in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Boston.

At the same time as the Crystal Lake event, a smaller crowd came together in Algonquin at Cornish Park opposite Port Edward’s, under the clock tower. And later Wednesday afternoon, protesters rallied at Cary Coffee Station near the METRA station.

Melanie Ruley, 34, and her 3-year-old daughter, Mary, showed up at the Crystal Lake rally dressed in colonial-era garb in the spirit of the 1773 Boston Tea Party.

“Government spending is way out of control,” she said. “Our forefathers are rolling over in their graves.”

McHenry County business owner Ed Salisbury of Crystal Lake took time off work to the join in the protest.

“We’re overtaxed at every level, from the village on up to the federal government,” he said. “They just don’t get it. I’m not satisfied with any level of government services.”

Many carried placards with messages like “T.E.A. Taxed Enough Already,” “Give me liberty, not debt,” or “Stop raping our Constitution.”

Candace Dowler of Crystal Lake held a sign that read, “Stop spending my grandchildren’s money.”

“I feel like this is the only thing I can do to have my voice be heard,” said Dowler, who has three grandchildren.

Tom Zanck, a local attorney, didn’t have a sign, but he had a message for elected representatives.

“Government officials have to look at ways to shrink the size of government, not expand it,” he said.

David Brady, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Illinois, left his party banner at home in the spirit of anti-tax unity. He said he was buoyed by the number of people who turned out.

“Now we need to move this to the ballot box,” Brady said.

Many others, regardless of party affiliation, echoed that sentiment.

“It’s getting ridiculous,” said Scott Mensching, 52, of Crystal Lake. “We’re getting taxed to death. It’s time to start doing something.”

Mensching showed up after hearing about the events in the news and online. Organizers said information spread quickly over the Internet, including on social networking sites such as Facebook.

Though some put it higher, law enforcement officials estimated that the Crystal Lake crowd numbered fewer than 200, said Deputy Chief of Police Dennis Harris. Organizers had notified police prior to the event. Officers were called to the scene to address parking complaints at nearby businesses and to “keep an eye on safety” at the busy intersection, Harris said. It went smoothly, he added.

With horns blaring from the roadway, one observer commented that “the silent majority is no longer silent.”

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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