April 15th, 2009
08:23 PM ET
9 years ago

A box of tea forces White House into lockdown

 Uniformed members of the Secret Service are seen outside the White House after a suspicious package was tossed over the fence onto the White House grounds.

Uniformed members of the Secret Service are seen outside the White House after a suspicious package was tossed over the fence onto the White House grounds.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Secret Service officers were scurrying to close the North Lawn of the White House Wednesday afternoon because of a suspicious package and it appeared that trouble was brewing.

But it turned out that nothing more was brewing than an innocent little box of, yes, tea bags.

The security alert started around 2 p.m. ET, when an unidentified person tossed the box over the gate of the White House and it landed on President Obama's lawn with a thud.

Journalists were quickly banned from moving outside of the press briefing room, and hundreds of protesters gathered for a "Tax Day Tea Party" were quickly shooed out of Lafayette Park as a security robot inspected the package closely.
After about a half hour of high alert, a Secret Service official told CNN the "suspicious package" was merely some tea bags. So the threat was over, and so was the anti-Obama protest.

Updated: 5:05 p.m.

Filed under: Tea Party movement • White House
soundoff (178 Responses)
  1. Lee Bartholomew

    Add one on the socialism signs... uh.. well I guess those protesters don't deserve the Postal Service, need to have their SOCIAL security removed and they'll get zero in medicaid.

    April 15, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  2. Joanna

    The GOP cried about some dems not paying there taxes( which they should) but yet say it is Patriotic to NOT pay taxes! Wow is all i can say!!

    April 15, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  3. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    The O'man admin was looking for some excuse, ANY excuse, to shut down the Tea Party protest in D.C.. Yes, squelching free speech is now well on its way, headed up by "Homeland Security".

    How do you like THAT for change!

    April 15, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  4. Bushed

    I agree. Well said Mr. Thompson @ 5:16.

    April 15, 2009 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  5. nom deplume, esq.

    A friend with a background in special operations told me something like this would happen. Federal agents use various techniques to bust up gatherings or cause them to devolve. Certainly an agent would know that tossing a box onto the North Lawn would cause that result, especially during a press conference. And the anti-tax protesters get the blame. I didn't believe him when he suggested it would occur, but now he looks prescient.

    April 15, 2009 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  6. tom

    Its funny everyone comment on here is nothing but a slander against the GOP. Its obvious the majority of you do not understand economics much less politics. Give over your blinded hate!!! Economic policies take many years to have any relevant impact so the majority of the problems stem from the end of the Clinton Era, secondly Barney Frank and his peers refused to support any legislation which would of regulated banks/investment banks. Do your research before you spew hate. The last thing I will leave you with is the Tea Parties where not about individual income taxes. They are about the government taking individuals hard earned income and spending it on socialist programs, paying peoples mortgage with bought down loans and universal healthcare and programs of this nature.

    This country was founded upon the priciples of liberty and hard work and the current government is taking those liberties( hard work, money) and using them to benefit others instead of the person who earned them.

    Get a life educate your self before you spew such ignorance!

    April 15, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  7. Al, California

    The tea-bag morons make GOP a bad and scary joke.

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry told lots of nonsense at "tea party" today as some in his audience shouted, "Secede!" The GOP is a mix of crooks and extremists, and they will do anything that would be profitable for crooks.

    April 15, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  8. silly rabbit

    The GOP is trying to call this a "grass roots" movement yet it backed by FoxNews and other large conservative groups. I have to agree that if this had happened through the Bush years with all the spending and the GOP pushed it I would find it to be more believable. This is just a GOP last ditch effort because as usual they have NO answers to help righten the economy. Of course they'll draw big crowds, heck Palin drew huge crowds with a lot of racists idiots among the bunch as well. Bottom line is even after the tea-bagging is over, nothing is going to change but money spent which could have been used somewhere else better.

    April 15, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  9. Norom

    Mr. Thompson April 15th, 2009 5:16 pm ET

    Interesting that the Republicans never protested war based on faulty intelligence, never protested horrible conditions at veterans' hospitals, never protested the wiretapping and other destruction of civil liberties, never protested Bush's extremely high budgets (which left the cost of the war out of them), never protested the first bailout which came under Bush… they never made a peep about ANY of that, and often called the people who did "un-American."

    Mr Thompson, you are right on the money.

    April 15, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. Zion

    I'm scared..I guess now I can run as a GOP candidate. LOL. I'm sorry, I'm normally classier than that, but I'm sorry these people make it entirely too easy.

    April 15, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  11. MN

    I don't quite understand what these tea parties are for this year. The reason coming from those actually attending these parties vary greatly. So how can this tea party across the nation have an impact when the message is garbled?

    I'm going to give Obama a chance and see if he can fix this economy.

    Now.. if this really is about taxes... I'm not entirely sure as most of those protesters, their taxes went down in April.. but yet the tax return that is due is from last year before Obama became president, maybe its government spending? but that seems silly as no one protested on the last administration, or maybe its about gun control?..... nevermind confusing myself again as to why these tea parties are happening again.

    I do think the tax laws need to be overhauled! But I don't have time for parties.. I have a family to raise.

    April 15, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  12. Biff Biffington

    Oh Please, Tim...

    Surely even YOU can understand that you can't throw ANYTHING over the fence at the President of the United State's house...

    besides... once the situation was given the all clear, the protesters were allowed to return.

    bush would have had them in a "free speech zone" someplace in Virginia.

    April 15, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  13. Luke

    This entire comment section demonstrates exactly why the two party system has failed in America. Everyone is so enamored with their own party that they fail to view policies as a whole.

    Do I know that massive bailouts are going to solve the economic crisis? No. Do I like massive deficit spending? No. Do I like the government cherry-picking which companies get to survive via our and our children's money? Vehemently no. Does that mean I hate Obama? Absolutely not. I have never agreed with everything a sitting President and Congress have sought to do. Anyone who does, regardless of political background, is contributing to the weakening of our country.

    Grow up, everyone!!! Get over yourselves and get on with your life. If you want to debate or protest you have every right to do so. It's what makes this country great. But all the snark and demeaning comments have no place. The pendulum will swing back and forth...Republican to Democrat...conservative to liberal...those who value opportunity first to those who value fairness first. We each can be our own judge of where we are now. Our voices and votes determine the future, not our hatred and contempt.

    April 15, 2009 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  14. arithmetic is liberal

    Tim April 15th, 2009 5:02 pm ET

    Wow, way to silence the opposition Obama break out the water hoses next. Sorry that a community has organized against you.

    Take it from a take-to-the-streets left winger...

    If a liberal, anti-war protester threw ANYTHING over the wall at the Bush Administration's White House, the poor jerk would STILL be mid-cavity search!!

    I really don't think Republicans get it. When you have people rolling their eyes at your phony outrage, you call it "suppression" and that people are denying you First Amendment rights. I'll tell you what it feels like. Have any Tea Party people been maced in the face today?

    Mace really, really stings. I got maced at a protest in Los Angeles two years ago against the war and you can't really imagine anything more painful than getting mace out of your eyes.

    So if you want to talk about riot police and tear gas and German Sheperds, then I've got stories for you, but something tells me your average conservative wouldn't be able to handle it.

    The protesters who hurled some garbage over the fence was nothing but AN IDIOT.

    April 15, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  15. Biff Biffington


    first VOTING against your own best interests...

    now PROTESTING and voting agianst your own best interests...

    I wonder how many people making overe 250k were 'protesting'?

    April 15, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  16. Ray Fisher

    The President must unfortunately endure the wrath of the memory impaired public on this tax day. They convienently overlook the postive actions he has taken thus far in their haste for reparations. The public must withold judgement of our President for at least 2 years till his policies take hold in earnest. I doubt we have the patience judging from history!!!

    April 15, 2009 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  17. Ashley in Wisconsin

    I saw one of those so-called 'Tea Parties' here in my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin. Those people should be ashamed of themselves! I went to see what was going on with my husband, who is blind and has a service animal, and one of those so-called
    ' Patriots' tried to set their pit-bull on our beautiful Labrador. I am a proud Democrat who supports our President all the way and I hope that these people soon stop their 'tea partying' and get actual jobs, if they think America is so hard-up.

    April 15, 2009 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  18. Renee from Broward, FL

    At the end of the day, I bet Lipton l make a profit!!

    April 15, 2009 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  19. Norom

    Pat F April 15th, 2009 5:25 pm ET

    I get really sick of crocodile tears from liberals about helping the working class, when everyone is in such a hurry to sell Detroit down the river. Jerks in Toyotas and Hondas with Obama bumper stickers – it's a disgrace that such hypocrits are allowed to drive.

    More often than not those Hondas and Toyotas are built in the USA by
    American workers. I get really sick of the crocodile tears from the wing nuts that claim they love our troops, love the little children until it comes time to pay the taxes to take care of our soldiers and veterans, and fund education. It's a disgrace that hypocrites like you are allowed to live in this country. Talk about wanting a free ride.

    April 15, 2009 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  20. arnie

    Ask Captain Phillips if the Government should stop spending or we should cut our taxes. I would rather pay more taxes to have that Navy Seal in place just in case I am a seized by a bunch of thugs on the High Seas. If you want less government that is fine. Perhaps we should take each name who participated in this TEA party send you all of the taxes you have paid and allow you no access to law enforcement, keep you off the roads and let you provide your own Defense against rogue nations.

    April 15, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  21. jim/phoenix

    no one minds paying taxes,but we all object to the way washington
    and the clowns in congress spend spend and spend. pay raises
    and pork (or the new word "earmark") This is not the times for this
    waste of money.New administation/same crap New president/
    same crap Democtatic congress/same crap.
    nothing has changed except the faces mind set is the same

    April 15, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  22. Brendose, Oceanside CA

    Where were all these people when BUSH was in office?

    Oh yeah, they were counting their money in the hyper inflated, falsified, stock market!

    Don't blame Obama for Bush's mistakes!

    April 15, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  23. Tom Paine

    Hey Obama supporters – just wait until you get stuck with the giant bill too.

    You think people making $250,000+ are the only ones who will pay? Get ready for the gag – it's going to be you too.

    Assuming any of you have jobs...which I doubt.

    April 15, 2009 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  24. Annoyed One


    While it may have been a Republican administration because of who was in the Oval Office, Democrats have controlled Congress for the last 2+ years. If the Dems couldn't change anything in 2+ years, what makes anyone think that anything will change in another 3.75 years with a Democratic administration?

    Oh yeah, and Carlo, I don't care if it is only a few dollars (which is greatly understated) that people would get. People donate to charities by choice and it is not the government's place to use my tax money to help the "under-privileged" get out of whatever hole they are in. Most people have worked hard to get where they are in life and it is insulting to think that there are lazy slackers who can sit around and collect my hard earned money.

    April 15, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    Wouldn't it better if the "Tea-Party" had been directed at those who actually put our country in this mess in the first place? Silly me, that would be the GOP, wouldn't it?

    April 15, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
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