September 23, 2009 - About a dozen protesters—armed with flags, homemade signs and a sharp message for President Barack Obama—lined the sidewalk in front Kroger during afternoon rush hour Friday.
"Obama lied, freedom died," roared 10-year-old Natalie Bommarito as motorists traveling M-24 through Lake Orion honked, shouted and waved.
Like other so-called Tea Party demonstrations taking place across the U.S., the gathering, participants said, was meant to send public testimony to Washington.
"This country is headed in the wrong direction," said Lake Orion resident Sharon Keener, waving a flag she said was meant to represent the "Second American Revolution." "We have to get back to what our founding fathers fought for."
Friday's Tea Party was organized by Let Freedom Reign, a local grassroots group aimed at organizing and disseminating information, as well as recruiting participants for upcoming meetings and rallies.
"I'm concerned about the direction our country is headed in with this big push to the left," said Philip Bommarito, who brought daughters—10-year-old Natalie and 14-year-old Sarah—to the gaterhing from the family's home in Davison.
Bommarito cited cap and trade legislation as worrisome, as well as potential amnesty for non-citizens.
"I'm also opposed to government run health care," he said. "The government has never been able to run anything else right, why do they think they can run health care? It will be a disaster of epic proportions."
Something "needs to be done about healthcare" he noted, but allowing the government to run it is not the answer.
Tom Kenney of Lake Orion agreed.
"The cost of these socialized programs for bailouts and healthcare has been grossly understated," he said. "It's true there has to be some controls on healthcare costs, but that can be done through competition."
Kenney said he was dismayed by Obama's claim that the nation would save $100 million through the elimination of Medicaid fraud and abuse.
Such savings, he opined, do not require a complete overhaul of the system.
"The underlying issue is insurance for 47 million people," he said. "Half of those are chronically unemployed and the other half are non-documented residents who don't contribute anything to taxes."
Annamaria Evans of Independence Township said federal spending has gone through the roof since Obama took office.
"But we were also against the bailouts when Bush was in office," she said. "This isn't about the Democrats, and it's not about the Republicans, or the Independents. Spending is out of control."
Like many other protesters, Evans said national healthcare was a big issue.
"They wanted to shove it through in a week before summer recess," she said. "Now we're finding out how horrific it really is, a complete government takeover."
Evans said the government has awakened a "sleeping giant," and she'll continue to fight.
Peter Grabowski of Lake Orion said he is also opposed to Obama's plan for healthcare reform.
"It keeps changing," he said. " I think they should tell the truth to the people instead of doctoring it up."
But for Chuck Schram, the solution seemed obvious.
"If this healthcare they're proposing is so great, let the senators try it first," he said. "If it don't work for them, it won't work for us."