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Protesters decry spending, taxes, control

October 17, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Holding signs such as "STOP spending," "No government health care" and "I want my country back," a group of about 50 protesters from throughout the Tri-State area gathered Saturday afternoon in Hagerstown's Public Square, despite cold and rainy weather, to protest what they see as excessive government spending, taxation and control over people's lives.

The demonstration was one of about 100 such events organized in cities throughout the country Saturday as part of Operation: Can You Hear Us Now?, a campaign to protest the mainstream media's lack of coverage of conservative activist events and viewpoints, according to the movement's Web site, operationcanyouhearusnow.com.

Participants in the Hagerstown rally came from a variety of organizations from Hagerstown, Frederick, Md., and Jefferson and Berkeley counties in West Virginia, and they included Republicans, Democrats and independents, said Terri Clark of Inwood, W.Va.

"This is not about partisanship," Clark said. "This is about fixing the economy, this is about keeping within the confines of the constitution, this is about small government, low taxes, about creating jobs for American people."

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Clark also stressed that while some protesters at the rally oppose President Obama, the protest was not about Obama personally and had nothing to do with his race.

She said her three biggest concerns were the federal budget deficit, proposed health care reform and measures in a cap-and-trade climate change bill that Clark said would introduce excessive government control over consumer decisions.

Another protester, Patricia Rucker of Harpers Ferry, W.Va., held a sign declaring she was a legal, first-generation Hispanic immigrant opposed to big government.

Rucker said her family came to the U.S. from Venezuela on her father's work visa, decided to become U.S. citizens, and waited to go through the proper channels and pay the required fees before finally becoming legal U.S. citizens almost four years ago.

"I'm proud because I did it legally," Rucker said, explaining she believes something as valuable as U.S. citizenship should not be given away.

Rucker said she was furious about the financial system bailout passed last year and felt betrayed by presidential candidate John McCain's support for it. She said she was at Saturday's protest to encourage Americans to pay more attention to what was going on in their government and to take a more active role to protect the next generation from the consequences of irresponsible spending.

"The whole point is, if you know what you have, then you will fight for it and you will value it," Rucker said.

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