Ralliers at Capitol want to be heard

SACRAMENTO — For the most part, tea party activists who filled the west lawn of Capitol Park on Thursday just want to be left alone.

"I want my rights, I want my liberty, I want my government and this Capitol to get out of my way and let me pursue my happiness," conservative radio host Eric Hogue told the crowd, drawing loud cheers.

But first, they want their elected officials to take notice.

"They don't listen to what we want. They just want to get their own agenda done," said Chandra Murphy, a Concord homemaker who held a sign that read, "We will not sit down and shut up."

The rally at the Capitol, one of more than 90 tax day protests planned in California, was rooted in calls for lower taxes, less spending and a smaller government limited by a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

"If it's not in the original Constitution, government has no business being in it," said a man on stilts decked out in an Uncle Sam costume who called himself "Too Tall."

An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 demonstrators attended the afternoon rally sponsored by the NorCal Tea Party Patriots. Last year's tax day rally at the Capitol attracted an estimated 5,000 people.

Echoing the sentiment at rallies held across the nation, many in the Sacramento crowd expressed disdain for President Barack Obama.

Their top complaint was the recent health care overhaul.

"I'm mad because what the government is doing with the country is headed toward socialism," said Ron Brown, a physical therapist from Sacramento.

But the sign-wielding demonstrators also decried illegal immigration, public funding for abortions and what they characterized as a lack of water rights for Central Valley farmers.

In Washington, several thousand rallied in the shadow of the Ronald Reagan office building.

Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota won roars of affirmation as she accused Obama and congressional Democrats of trying to take over health care, energy, financial services and other broad swaths of the economy.

"We're on to this gangster government," she declared. "I say it's time for these little piggies to go home."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.