Mass. Tea Party: Tone It Down!

By Sarah Birnbaum

Mar. 4, 2011

Tea party supporters gather on the Boston Common in Boston, in April 2010, during a rally where Sarah Palin spoke. (AP)

BOSTON — The Tea Party has come in for its share of criticism for inflammatory talk. But now, calls to tone down the political rhetoric are coming from the Tea Party.

A coalition of Massachusetts Tea Party and conservative groups sent a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick this week, criticizing comments by government officials at recent pro-labor rallies.  

In the letter, Tea Party activists say they were “shouted at, spit on, shoved and knocked to the ground” when they picketed at a recent rally that had been called to support Wisconsin state workers. U.S. Representative Michael Capuano of Massachusetts fired up the pro-union crowd on the State House steps, saying, “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary.” Capuano has since apologized for his comments.

The Tea Party letter also points to a comment reportedly made by Patrick's labor director George Noel at a second pro-union rally on Saturday. According to the Boston Herald, Noel told labor supporters, “Make no mistake about it. We are at war.”

Tad Kasperowicz of the Quincy Tea Party says in-and-of itself, this statement wouldn’t be a big deal. But he says it’s part of a pattern of suggestive, violent language from Massachusetts officials.

“There’s a vibe coming from our government. There’ve been repeated comments inciting violence. When does this end?” Kasperowicz said. 

Kasperowicz and the other Tea Party groups are calling on Patrick to help end what they call the escalating, violent political rhetoric.

But Tim Sullivan, of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, says it’s an odd request.

"It’s just ironic to me that the party of incendiary language now has a problem with any kind of passion and any kind of language. For them to take offense is a little disturbing.  It’s a little discouraging, actually,” Sullivan said.

Governor Patrick, who has been vocal in his support for unions throughout the recent events in Wisconsin, hasn’t returned requests for comment.

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