New Hampshire Union Leader

All Michael Yannetti wanted to do Monday was to protest the notion of Washington bailouts and $3.6 trillion in federal spending. So he did what thousands did across the country this week: mailed tea to their congressional representatives in protest.

Yesterday, police showed up at his door.

The green tea he had mailed to the Manchester office of Rep. Carol Shea-Porter prompted the evacuation of her office yesterday. Police and firefighters were at the downtown location for about 1 1/2 hours, securing the scene and conducting field tests for possible hazardous substances or volatile compounds.

“Really, I didn’t think it was a big deal,” said Yannetti, a dentist who lives in Pelham. “As far as I know, this was a mainstream thing.”

Fox News has reported about the tea protests for weeks, he said. And Yannetti received an e-mail that designated Wednesday as the day to send tea to your congressman, he said. He put the tea in an envelope with his name and return address and wrote “tea protest” on the outside, he said.

090402tea275.jpg (BOB  LAPREE)

Manchester police remove the suspicious substance from Rep. Carol Shea-Porter’s office yesterday. (BOB LAPREE)

After the letter arrived at Democrat Shea-Porter’s office at 33 Lowell St., Capitol Police in Washington told the staff to call city police and firefighters.

Manchester Fire Lt. Paul Smith said emergency responders quickly identified the substance as tea or tobacco. But they tested the material to be sure.

Three or four staff members were in the Democrat’s office when police and firefighters were called to the scene shortly before 2 p.m.

“They implemented whatever procedure they were supposed to implement,” Smith said. “They were asked to go to a safe refuge while we analyzed it.

Meanwhile, Manchester police asked Pelham police to visit Yannetti, who identified the substance as green tea, said Manchester police Sgt. Todd Boucher. Yannetti said he sent similar letters to the three other members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation.

Police and fire units had left by about 3:30 p.m.

“It didn’t shut down commerce on the street or anything,” Smith said.

Boucher said a U.S. postal inspector has asked for a copy of the report.

“Realistically, I don’t think there will be any charges coming from us,” Boucher said, noting that nothing was secretive about the letter.

Jamie Radice, a spokeswoman for Shea-Porter, said the congresswoman was in Washington at the time. She thanked public safety officials for their swift attention to the envelope.

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