ST AUGUSTINE – When the Flagler College sophomore Logan Guidry, 19, saw the Occupy Wall Street protests spread across the world, he thought: “Let’s bring it to our town.” He cobbled his friends together and began to organize the first OWS protest in their small historical seaside town of St Augustine, Florida. They invited every group that was fed up with the status quo to join them, including the local Tea Party. “We certainly plan to be there, but we’ll be there to protest them,” was the response from a local Tea Party leader, Lance Thate. He organizes regular small-scale protests of his own, complete with period costumes and the revolutionary Gasden Flag that depicts a rattlesnake over the words “don’t tread on me.”
Logan was as disappointed as he was surprised: “They were the first to protest these issues like the bank bail-outs. You could say the Tea Party movement in some ways was the original ‘Occupy’ protesters.” After all, the exact same Gasden flag has been waved at OWS events from Boston to Los Angeles to New York. Both have seen much of their wealth vanish, both are frustrated at the banks and the politicians who have sided with them. “I’m 84 and MAD as HELL,” read the sign of an elderly lady in a little gray blouse at Zuccotti Park, but it would have been right at home at Glenn Beck’s 9/12 rally in Washington, D.C. Some Tea Party activists have been spotted at various OWS protests around the country, but the crossover has been minimal. Why? Why is the common frustration at the status quo divided in two?