In 2009, on this day following a verbal confrontation, police fired shots into a crowd, leaving ten members of the Tea Party Movement dead and dozens more injured at the bloody climax to the 500,000 man Taxpayer March on Washington.
Taxpayer March on WashingtonTwo of injured participants died of their injuries three days later. One of those two was Matt Kibbe, one of the organizers of the rally. The other was his wife of 25 years, Terry Kibbe. Hundreds of activists were arrested, and allegations of civil rights violations while incarcerated ran rampant across the nation.
Support for the Tea Party, already a medium levels due to the unpopularity of TARP, the Obama bailout, and the universal healthcare law, skyrocketed after the catastrophe in the nation's capital, which was already being dubbed "The 2nd Boston Massacre". Tea Party rallies across the country averaged a minimum of five thousand attendees, with some numbers reaching in excess of 15,000 participants.
Though widespread opinion placed full blame for the massacre on the overreaction of the police, the Democratic party placed its full support behind the police, while the reaction of the GOP upper echelon was guarded. This furthered the divide between the RNC and grassroots Republicans, the latter who overwhelmingly supported the Tea Party movement in the days after the tragedy in D.C.
The smoldering brush fire that had begun in the Capitol were fanned into a blazing brushfire when the FBI and ATF (with the nominal and increasingly unwilling help of local law enforcement agencies around the country) began cracking down on nationwide Tea Party rallies, dispersing the crowds and arresting the organizers. Debate raged over the legality of the Feds' actions, while whispers grew louder that the FBI/ATF got their orders straight from POTUS himself. Tea Party members around the country petitioned Congress for redress of grievances, saying that the FBI and ATF were forcing Tea Party adherents to radicalize - but the Democratic-controlled Congress sided with the Administration, in effect allowing the crackdown to continue
Both the tragedy in Washington and the Federal crackdown on the Tea Party movement were widely condemned, most notably in a barnstorming speech delivered by an unknown young man (who went by the pseudonym of Jack) in Modesto, CA. During his speech, which was later to be referred to as "The Shot Heard 'Round The World, Part Two", he said to a gathered Tea Party crowd of 2,000 people in downtown Modesto that when peaceful measures proved to be a failure, self-defense was the only option left to a free people. He ended his speech by crying "Long live the Republic" and brandishing a loaded Springfield Armory M1911A1 single-action .45 ACP semi-automatic pistol. Nearly 15 minutes later, when a detachment of FBI officers arrived to break up the rally, the crowd turned on the heavily-outnumbered officers and overwhelmed them. Shots were fired, combatants on both sides were killed and injured, and the opening salvo in what would be called the Battle of Modesto had begun.
The next day, with sporadic gun battles still taking place around the city, a video of the young man known as Jack (whose real name was later revealed as Jared) went viral on YouTube.
In it, he claimed that all three branches of the U.S. government (along with the two major political parties) had in effect betrayed the American people, and called for a nationwide revolt and a 2nd American Revolution against "the institutionalized elitism, corruption, and totalitarianism of the current Federal government". He went on to say that several hundred Tea Party supporters were currently engaged in violent conflict with the FBI and ATF in Modesto, and that he personally would continue to fight "until this horrible business is decided". His passionate speech, calling on Americans to "stand up and be free once again", was quickly spread across the nation and even went viral on a global scale, prompting parallels between himself and Asmaa Mahfouz of Egypt.
His words proved to be the catalyst for an out-and-out insurrection in Central California. To the shock of a stunned political establishment, enraged farmers, city workers, and other citizens rose up in the thousands all across the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Sacramento and converged on Modesto. It is believed that close to 50,000 Central Valley Californians took up arms against the government in the course of one week. The ATF and FBI, which had almost defeated Jack and one hundred Tea Party rebels left alive in Modesto, found themselves outnumbered and out-gunned by an angry populace. The Modesto Police Department refused to fire on their fellow Californians, and more than a few joined the rebels outright. After a 24-hour gun battle that left downtown Modesto nearly in ruins, the surviving Federal officers surrendered, and Jack (by now the undisputed leader) hoisted a "Don't Tread On Me" flag over City Hall.
The Battle of Modesto sent shockwaves around the nation, driving Congress and the Obama Administration into a panicked frenzy. Tea Party leaders (as well as a few state congressmen and Senators) were now calling for armed revolution, and their supporters were responding. The Democratic Party condemned the uprising in harsh terms and promised to support the Federal law enforcement in continuing to crackdown on "these brazen criminals", as did the Obama Administration. The official RNC/GOP response (supported by Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, former Senator Rick Santorum, and former Governor Mitt Romney), though recognizing the "legitimate grievances of a few American citizens", was ultimately similar to their Democratic counterparts in calling for the crushing of the rebellion. This led a schism within the GOP between those who supported the Party and those who supported the rebels. The Libertarian Party, while lamenting the use of violence, said in official statement that the "laws and principles of liberty lie with the insurrectionists", while the Constitution Party went even further, calling on its members to openly support the insurrection "by any and all means possible".
The reactions of the various Congressmen and political figures across the nation who had originally supported the Tea Party movement were various and assorted. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, an outspoken supporter of the original Tea Party movement, declared that she "could no longer serve a Congress which allows the Federal government to make open war on American citizens" and returned to Minnesota, but played no further role in the Tea Party uprising. Senator Jim DeMint was arrested in his home state of South Carolina for allegedly actively supporting the uprising. Though the charges were later dropped, the arrest of the popular junior Senator drove hundreds of willing volunteers into the ranks of local militant Tea Party militias. Nearly the exact scenario played out in Wisconsin when Congressman Paul Ryan was also arrested (and subsequently released) on similar charges. Former Ambassador and Presidential candidate Alan Keyes became the outspoken and electrifying Tea Party militia leader in Maryland, rallying thousands to the Tea Party standard in the backyard of Washington D.C. itself. Congressman Ron Paul, himself widely considered to be the intellectual father of the Tea Party movement, also quit the House and returned to Texas. Though in his mid-70s and (by his own admission) a "big fan of peace", he stated that he "could not in good conscience remain silent while American citizens fight and die for precious liberty". Paul was instrumental in convincing the Texas National Guard to ally itself with the Tea Party forces, which led to the ousting of all Federal law enforcement officials from the state of Texas. Paul's son Rand, a candidate for Senate in Kentucky, was a key player in Tea Party resistance to Federal law enforcement in Kentucky and neighboring Tennessee.
With a major revolution brewing across the land, President Obama was faced with only two options, each as difficult and potentially dangerous as the other - 1) Declare martial law and unleash the military against the rapidly-growing insurgency, or 2) Resign the Presidency and hand over the reigns to the equally-unpopular Vice-President Joe Biden. The Vice-President, his Cabinent, the DNC, and his close allies in Congress were urging him to declare martial law and crush the rebellion, yet the news on the military front was troubling. While the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps assured the President that he had the loyalty of the Marines, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army stated unequivocally that he could not guarantee the loyalty of the Army rank-and-file should they be ordered to fire on American citizens.