‘Re-prime your rifles’

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 16, 2010

Retired Covington County circuit judge Jerry Stokes stood on the courthouse square Thursday night and told the approximately 150 attending a Tea Party event that it’s time to “re-prime your rifles.”

Pointing toward the theater off the square, Stokes said he used to watch movies there on Saturday afternoons for 15 cents. In the 1950s, he said, a Davy Crockett movie came to the local silver screen, and every boy around had a coonskin hat.

Later, he said, as a judge, he was talking with fellow Judge Ashley McKathan, whose son had received a copy of a Davy Crockett movie.

“He said he was watching out the window one day and he saw a bunch of kids lined up in a column with stick rifles,” Stokes said. “One would turn around and bark something to the others.”

He said McKathan couldn’t figure out what the young boys were saying, so he listened to the movie to figure it out. The answer was, after they’d crossed a river, Crockett told the men behind him to “re-prime your rifles.”

“The Tea Party movement is telling us what we need to do is re-prime our rifles,” Stokes said. His speech drew a standing ovation.

Stokes followed Tom Parker, a member of the Alabama Supreme Court, and Stephanie Bell, a state board of education member. Parker spoke against judicial activism, while Bell said, “We’ve been used.”

Candidates for local office this year also were each given three minutes to speak. Those participating included Don Cotton, an independent candidate for state representative; Greg Gambril, a Democratic candidate for district attorney; Walt Merrell, a Republican candidate for district attorney; and Eddie Rowell, a Republican candidate for coroner.

The event drew residents from Andalusia and the surrounding areas, including John Raines of Evergreen, who stood out in the crowd waving a First Navy Jack flag attached to a sapling tree. The flag, a field of red and white stripes featuring a snake and the words “don’t tread on me,” was used during the Revolutionary War, Raines said, to signal other ships about the enemy.

“Today our enemy is not just groups against America,” Raines said. “But it’s also representatives in Congress and the Senate.”

Thursday night’s rally, which featured country music and boxes of Church’s fried chicken, was the third held in Covington County yesterday. At lunch time, a separate group that calls itself the Common Sense Group hosted a tax day party on the square. The group held a second rally yesterday afternoon at Lake Jackson in Florala.

Similar rallies drew crowds across Alabama as irate speakers called for smaller government and lashed out at Washington politicians and federal health care legislation.

More than 300 turned out Thursday at the steps of the Alabama Capitol, where former Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin denounced the nation’s ballooning debt.

In Mobile, a tea party rally began with a march downtown, and several others were planned at coastal sites and south Alabama. Those turning out in Trussville heard former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore quote patriots of the American Revolution.