DENVER — Crowds jammed onto the sidewalks in front of more than a dozen Internal Revenue Service offices nationwide Tuesday to protest the agency’s targeting of conservative organizations for extra scrutiny.
“We are done with being shut down, shut out and shut up, period,” said Randy Corporon, chairman of the Arapahoe County Tea Party, at a rally outside the IRS field office in downtown Denver. “I’m here to tell you that reports of the death of the tea party have been significantly over-exaggerated.”
Shouted a protester from the crowd, “The party’s just getting started!”
In Cincinnati, demonstrators packed the sidewalks in front of and across the street from the federal building that houses the IRS offices at the epicenter of the scandal. A handful of activists presented a Federal Protective Service officer a petition that called for the IRS to “cease and desist,” asking him to deliver it to the agency.
“It’s going to be up to the grass-roots movement to do something,” said Paul Wheeler of Indianapolis, wearing a Colonial-era outfit with a tri-corner hat and holding a sign saying, “Internal ‘Revenge’ Service Stop.”
The noon demonstrations were sparked by admissions from IRS officials that they singled out conservative groups, including tea party organizations, by probing their membership, donors and mission when processing applications for tax-exempt status.
Crowds were reported outside IRS offices in many major U.S. cities, including Atlanta; Louisville; Chicago; Colorado Springs; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Philadelphia, Providence, R.I., and San Diego.
In Atlanta, Gov. Nathan Deal addressed dozens of tea party protesters in front of the state capitol.
“This an unfortunate example where I do think the federal government through the IRS has overstepped its bounds, and I think it’s important that citizens groups, no matter what they might be, hold the government accountable for the use of their power,” said Mr. Deal.
In Denver, a crowd of more than 100 people waved signs and chanted “More freedom! Less government!” Dozens of cars honked in support of the ralliers, while people inside the building could be seen recording the protest on their cellphones.
A property manager confirmed the IRS has an office inside the building, but that the property is privately owned and includes private as well as government offices.
More than a dozen protesters took turns speaking to the gathering. Several speakers gave accounts of being audited or investigated by the agency, which they now attribute to their work on behalf of conservative causes.
Philip Sekar of Denver said that he emigrated from India to the U.S. because he valued freedom, but he said he no longer recognizes his adopted country.
“We don’t live in America any more,” he told the crowd. “We live in a banana republic.”