HARTFORD, Conn. -- State lawmakers told a crowd of more than 40,000, who gathered outside the Capitol yesterday to rage against the state's new 4.5 percent income tax, that they had enough votes to repeal the tax in a special session they planned to call within weeks.
The protest is believed to be the state's largest and angriest political rally in decades, if not ever.
Speakers called on the crowd to turn their anger against Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., the symbol of the income tax, into pressure on lawmakers to win over the votes that would be needed to sustain the governor's certain veto of any bill overturning the new law.
"Legislators are already feeling the heat -- this rally crystallizes it," said Republican Representative Miles S. Rapoport, an income tax supporter who braved the crowd at one point and had to be removed by the state police for his own safety.
Also entering the crowd, against the advice of his bodyguards, was the governor, who was spat at and greeted with obscenities and signs that compared him to Adolf Hitler. Smiling, and elbowing police officers who tried to rush him, the governor wedged his way through the crowd.
Mr. Weicker, who proposed the tax last spring and then vetoed three legislative budgets that solved the state's deficit in other ways, was personally pilloried in speech after speech for his wealth, his purported arrogance, and especially his insistence on the income tax, which Connecticut has avoided throughout its history until this year. Only nine states have no broad-based personal income tax.
Protesters carried signs that called for everything from impeachment to lynching for the governor and his budget officers. The crowd arrived in chartered buses and private cars from across the state, building toward a peak of what rally organizers said was 65,000 people by midafternoon.
Police estimates ranged from 40,000 to 48,000.