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Tea Party challenges Occupy Rose Parade plan

December 21, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The "Occupy" movement is targeting the Rose Parade. Organizers are planning a protest that is sure to raise attention, but is also raising anger. Now the local "Tea Party" is joining in the fight to stop them.

Occupy protesters want to do something to reach middle America, something nonviolent and not disruptive in front of Rose Parade cameras.

"We act and we march in symbolism to send a loud and clear message to Washington, D.C.," said Pete Thottam, Occupy Rose Parade organizer.

Dressed like a Rose Parade official, Thottam says a spectacle is in the works. The Occupy pledge is to link their revolt against corporations to the Rose Parade festivities.

A "human float" is planned to take to the streets.

The protest plans have raised concerns for weeks. Now comes a challenge from TEAPAC, a Pasadena Tea Party conservative group.

"We're speaking out because we deeply object to the politicization of the Rose Parade. They object to everything. They object to American society. That's our problem with these people," said Michael Alexander, president of TEAPAC. "But this is merely political opportunism."

"Politicizing? This is a militarized corporatized event," said Thottam.

"Their right to free expression does not include the right to interfere with somebody else's parade," said Alexander.

But disruption is not the plan, according to Thottam. Their display will be in the free-for-all procession that follows the parade. Yet some of their tactics remain confidential. Thottam says to expect a surprise that will help spread their message.

"A record five banks are banking floats. Wells Fargo will have one of the top three biggest floats in this parade," said Thottam. "We're going to tell Wells Fargo, 'Stop foreclosures.'"

The Pasadena Police Dept. is negotiating with all parties.

"People are welcome to come to the parade, regardless of their political, or their passion, or to demonstrate," said Pasadena Police Lt. Phlunte Riddle. "What they're not allowed to do is disrupt."

TEAPAC considered a counter-demonstration, but backed off after learning that the protesters would not be a part of the official parade.

"These guys are engaged in typical leftist political theater, and we don't want to be bit players in this petty drama," said Alexander.

The number of demonstrators predicted has fluctuated from 40,000 originally down to between 2,000 and 4,000.


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