A Beeville grandmother who sent tea bag tabs to Washington and Austin earlier this month found herself at police headquarters Monday answering questions about her intentions.
“I’m just a normal person. I’m a single grandmother raising two granddaughters,” said Faye Freeman Tuesday morning.
So imagine her reaction when Texas Ranger Andy Lopez and Beeville Police Department Staff Sgt. Richard Cantu came to her door Monday and told her they wanted her to go to the police department for questioning.
The reason? Freeman had mailed the tags from 64 tea bags to different elected representatives in Austin and Washington on April 4 to protest government spending. And one of the recipients had called the authorities to report her, saying he or she had received something suspicious in the mail from a woman in Beeville.
“If you were on the receiving end of something like that, what would you think?” Freeman said Lopez asked her.
“If I’d got something like that, I would have called the person back and said, ‘Can I help you?’” was her response.
When investigators asked if she thought she would open a suspicious envelope that had no return address, Freeman said, “The envelope had my return address on it.”
Later she asked this reporter, “How did they find me if there was no return address?”
Freeman was doing what thousands of working taxpayers are doing this month as part of a protest against increased government spending and coming tax increases.
Instead of sending tea bags, the grandmother decided to send the tabs from the bags and use the tea herself.
When she was asked why it was that she did not include a note in the letter explaining why she was sending the tabs, she had a simple answer. “That would have been an awful lot of writing.”
Freeman sent the envelopes to everyone in Washington and Austin she thought might listen. That included President Barack Obama, her U.S. senators and a number of representatives, state senators and representatives.
“When you do something like this you want to cover the chain of command,” she said.
But she never expected lawmen to show up at her door asking her to go downtown.
“I’m really surprised it happened,” Freeman said. “You should have seen my neighbors. I’m just a normal person and when the Texas Rangers came looking for me, they said, ‘Oh my goodness, what’s going on?’”
“I was stunned to start with,” Freeman said. “I didn’t have any idea. They kept assuring me that I wouldn’t be arrested.”
“They were polite. I didn’t have any problems answering their questions,” Freeman commented.
She said she planned to attend the tea party scheduled for the Bee County Courthouse lawn this morning. The entire tea bag tab incident was related to that event, a protest against the government for spending big and taxing big at a time when regular people are trying to make ends meet.
Other Bee County residents also mailed off tea bags to state and national representatives, but unlike Freeman most included a note of explanation with theirs.
“It seems to me that they keep wanting to tax people but they aren’t listening to what we want,” Freeman said. To her, that is taxation without representation, the reason the first tea party was held in Boston at the beginning of the American Revolution.
Lopez said he cannot comment much on the investigation. He said he received a call from someone who was concerned about the letter received from Freeman.
Lopez said he believes if she had included a letter explaining her feelings in the envelope there might not have been a complaint.
“I was asked to look into it, to see if there was anything fishy about it,” Lopez said of the envelope. “I was enlightened by Mrs. Freeman.”
Lopez did suggest that she might have been more clear with her intentions by including a note or letter of some kind. He said that when she said it would have taken a lot of writing to include a letter in each of the 64 envelopes, he simply suggested that she could have written one letter and made copies.
Lopez admitted that he had not kept up with the news regarding the tea party movement but he understands the intent now.
“She’s articulate and she seems sincere and genuine about that,” Lopez said.
As far as the tea bag letters and tea party protests planned for Wednesday across the nation, Lopez said he could understand the intent.
“This is America,” Lopez said. “Whatever makes your boat float.”