On a rainy day better suited for indoor activity, thousands converged Sunday on the state Capitol with concerns about federal spending and proposed health care changes. More than 5,000 attended a rally to show their angst and displeasure with the spending habits and increasing role of the federal government.
A noontime march and rally supporting health care reform attracted about 300 on the Capitol’s south steps and plaza.
The larger crowd overtook the north plaza and steps of the Capitol, filling the lawn between the plaza and the display of American Indian flags. The crowd consisted of a large group from Edmond and from several other cities in the state, including Oklahoma City, Choctaw, Harrah, Ponca City, Norman, Mustang and Guthrie.
Rain fell throughout, but didn’t dampen either side’s enthusiasm.
About 1,500 marched from near the Oklahoma History Center to join participants for the mid-afternoon rally put together by the Oklahoma City Tea Party group. More than a dozen yellow "Don’t tread on me” flags and at least twice that many American flags — a couple hoisted upside down — were being waved.
Signs were plentiful and took aim mostly at Congress and President Barack Obama for their role in providing financial assistance to American automakers, approving the economic stimulus funds for states and planning to overhaul the country’s health care system.
"In God we trust, not the government,” "Clinging to my God, my guns and my health care” and "Stop trampling on my Constitution” read some of the signs.
Several speakers talked for slightly more than an hour on concerns about the loss of freedom and the federal government taking more of a role in private businesses and state governments.
The message is simple, said Margie Drescher, director of the Oklahoma City Tea Party.
"We are not going to take it anymore,” she said. "We are silent no more.”
John Naeher of rural Grady Country said he arrived about two hours early so he could "complain about my government and what they’re doing to us.”
He’s skeptical about plans to reform the health care system.
"They have no intent to make health care better,” he said. "What they intend to do is to have power and control over our lives.”
Drescher said she was surprised so many showed up and stayed despite the rain.
Capitol: Rainy rallies in Oklahoma