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Tea party crashers, found!

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Lots of reporters were on the lookout yesterday for liberals, possibly inspired by CrashtheTeaParty.org, infiltrating the tax day tea parties. Lots of tea party organizers were looking for them, too.

"If you see someone doing something," FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said to a roaring crowd, "take their picture and put it on the Internet!"

The activists took that advice. They were helped by a free-moving, peaceful crowd, in which it was easy to get to the very front of the stage. Above is a picture I took of one liberal activist offering "free hugs from a liberal atheist" being watched carefully by a protester. And Benjy Sarlin located some more liberal crashers, capturing an exchange between them and irritated tea partyers.

Some of the infiltrators were just apolitical jokers -- even if their humor was lost on the participants. A group of students from American University belonging to a club that mocks mass protests brandished signs reading “I Have A Sign,” “Down With King George,” and “No $ 4 Education I Don’t Want It.” The group was chased across the protest by a screaming, red-faced tea partier in a denim jacket who identified himself only as “Spider.”

“They’re interlopers!” Spider shrieked as the nervous youngsters tried to make their way to a police officer. “These people are not the tea party!”

After being pushed to the outskirts of the protests, the phony demonstrators told The Daily Beast they were terrified of Spider, who they said threatened to “kick their ass.”

After the rally, Sarlin, Ken Vogel and I chatted with Andrew Breitbart, who'd only just heard of the crashers and lumped them in with "the left's" strategy to discredit tea partyers as racists.

"They needed it so badly," said Breitbart, "they wanted it so badly, that when they didn't get it they doubled down on their idiocy. It's not unlike the ACORN situation. They kept doubling down on their idiocy."

I asked whether Breitbart thought there was any racism at all in the movement, as I'd seen him confront Joseph Farah of WorldNetDaily over the Internet journalist's conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's citizenship.

"If I felt that there was a strain of racism that was moving this in one way or the other, I would not put myself within a city mile of it," said Breitbart. "My career could not afford it. My self-respect, my sense of who I am, could not afford it. The people who come up to me who are black, who are Hispanic and hug me because me they know I'm fighting their fight, that it's the black, the Hispanic, the gay conservative that are attacked for the left for being sell-outs. It's a similar form of Alinsky. It's a similar form of critical theory on steroids."

Photo by David Weigel

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By David Weigel  |  April 16, 2010; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  Tea Party  | Tags: American University, Andrew Breitbart, Barack Obama, FreedomWorks, President, Tea Party protests 2009, United States, WorldNetDaily  
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