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Hundreds gather on First Street in protest over administration's spending

Alysia Heidecker, from right, and Margaret and Ross Erickson, all of Willmar, hold up a banner during a demonstration Wednesday at Tiffany Square Plaza in Willmar. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR -- Roger Odegaard from Alexandria said he wanted to "bring the government's attention to the fact that we're putting too much debt on our children and grandchildren.''

Susan Adams of Kandiyohi said she wanted to make her voice heard.

"We wanted to be able to do something about the crazy spending that's going on. We don't agree with it. We don't think it's the right thing to do.''

Both were among hundreds of people carrying American flags and homemade signs protesting government spending during Wednesday night's "Taxed Enough Already'' -- or Tea Party -- event held in front of Tiffany Square on South First Street in Willmar.

The event was one of 14 held in Minnesota cities and nearly 600 nationwide on the day when state and federal income taxes are due.

Rollie Nissen, co-chair of the Kandiyohi County Republican Party, said the crowd was estimated at 350, ranging from children to senior citizens.

About 50 people stood on the west side of First Street, but most lined the sidewalk in front of Tiffany Square.

Nissen said he received permission from the Tiffany owner and renters to hold the rally at that location. Some protesters wore yellow buttons with Tea Party 2009 in black lettering. The buttons, provided by a couple of local people, were quickly sold and the proceeds will cover the costs of flyers.

Nissen said he had commitments from 150 people but more attended that he had not heard from. There were cheers from the crowd when motorists in cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles honked and waved.

There were no speakers and no politicians were invited. The event was billed nationwide as non-partisan. Nissen said people from the Republican Party, the Democratic Party "and a whole lot of independents'' attended.

"We were looking for people who want to see some change in government. We want to see more openness, transparency, consolidation and looking at different ways to budget so that we can hold the line on taxes,'' said Nissen.

"There are probably a lot more Independents here. There are a lot people that are not all that happy with the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. They think they're both the same,'' he said.

"Some of our politicians have contributed to that, unfortunately. It's not very comforting for a head of the local Republican Party to know that two of the top five 'pork producers' in the country are Republicans from Mississippi and Alabama.''

Nissan said most of the people he knows are conservative fiscally, "and I don't care whether they're Democrat or Republican. When they're talking about their own finances, they know that when they don't have income, they can't spend as much. That's just a Minnesota rural value. Unfortunately our Congress and our president who's proposed a $3.6 trillion budget -- that's unheard of.''