May 3rd, 2010
11:09 AM ET
4 years ago

We don't tolerate racist behavior, Tea Party organizer says


(CNN) – A leader of a national Tea Party organization said Monday that her organization has no patience for racists.

"In Tea Party Patriots, we have no place for that," Jenny Beth Martin said on CNN's American Morning. "If we see somebody who's doing something racist, we tell them to leave our events. We're there for our core values. We want to reclaim our founding principles in this country."

Martin, who's the national coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, said the conservative grassroots movement is dedicated to furthering three core values: fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Asked whether the Tea Party movement is political movement or a protest movement, Martin responded that it is "a little bit of both."

Related: Martin named one of Time's 100 Most Influential for 2010

And Martin said the movement is open to everyone, including racial and ethnic minorities, notwithstanding the fact that some national polls have indicated Tea Party activists and supporters of the movement are predominantly Caucasian.

Martin said there's "absolutely" a place for minorities in the conservative movement. "This is about ordinary citizens in America and we're reclaiming our founding principles. And those principles are liberty – it affects everyone in this country regardless of race or age."

Asked about the movement's future, Martin said "we don't have any intention of starting a new [political] party. We encourage people to get involved in the parties they've already been involved in.

And, as far as the 2012 election goes, this movement – it's been like a fire hydrant and we're just trying to keep up with it the best that we can. And I haven't been thinking very much about 2012 yet."

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released in mid-April, ten percent of Americans said they have actively supported the Tea Party movement. The survey indicated that those Tea Party activists are older, better educated and more religious than the general public.

Earlier: Who are the Tea Party activists?

soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. ATL Guy

    Oh please, I thought the whole premise of the Tea Party was to be angry that a black man had become President of the United States? Their main purpose is to oppose EVERYTHING he does whether it was positions that Republicans had advocated for in the past? I don't think that they're just racist, I think that they are stupid, narrow minded and unpatriotic.

    May 3, 2010 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. A Guy

    "The survey indicated that those Tea Party activists are older, better educated and more religious than the general public."

    Translation: They are Republicans

    May 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  3. Annie, Atlanta

    Hey, if you believe this one folks, I have some prime beachfront property along the Gulf of Mexico I wish to sell.

    May 3, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. Cynthia

    Yeah right!!!!! You are nothing but a bunch of hateful, name calling so called religious hate mongers.

    May 3, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  5. Al-NY,NY

    "The survey indicated that those Tea Party activists are older, better educated and more religious than the general public."......in other words, white, conservative GOP'ers who have nothing better to do than rail against anyone who isn't like them, calling them socialists, leeches, anti american, yadda yadda yadda

    May 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  6. Marc

    No one, except racists themselves, like or support racism.
    This guys and gals are giving a bad reputation to your movement, get rid of them while you can!!!

    May 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  7. Howard2, Seattle, WA

    So, because the Tea party members are mostly white, that means they are racist?? Using that line of thinking, the NBA is mostly black, is the NBA racist??

    May 3, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. If We Can Defeat Him On Healthcare, It Will Be His Waterloo

    If the Tea Partiers are so fervent in their support of the Constitution, maybe they should join the ACLU.

    May 3, 2010 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Debbie from Arizona

    The Tea Party can say they are not racist all day long and I do no believe them. The posters of our President with a Hitler mustache or with him dressed as a African Medicine Man pretty well say it all. A picture, or in this case pictures, is worth a thousand words.

    May 3, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. pflatman

    "In Tea Party Patriots, we have no place for that," Jenny Beth Martin said.

    Good luck with that. So many great examples of civil discourse with tea-partiers. Screaming, displaying patently offensive and racist signs at rallies. The groups attract crazies like no one's business.

    Ms. Martin needs to really step it up a notch if she intends on dis-inviting the crazies.

    May 3, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Bertina

    Tea party members and organizers have no clue what the term racist means if they think they haven't supported it. All movements that start at first utilize the most vocal in their group and guess what, those racist signs of Obama that many members sported since February of last year is nothing but racist.

    May 3, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Bill

    You have to be kidding! Anyone who is not aware of the racist underbelly of the Tea Party movement is either deluding themselves or has yet to go to a Tea Party rally. Signs referring to President Obama as a "jungle bunny" may not be explicitly racist, but they certainly are overtly racist. Whether you like Obama or not, don't be taken in by extremism and fringe conspiracies, this country needs thoughtful and level-headed leadership, not right-wing militias.

    May 3, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Ted D

    Not racist? Really?

    In that case, where is the Tea Party outrage over the recent Arizona immigration legislation?

    Doesn't the Tea Party decry big government and its intrusion into the lives of citizens?

    What if white illegals were crossing the border from Canada into WA state, for example, and a similar law were passed there? What if that law required white people to produce papers and to be detained if they could not do so?

    Would the Tea Party members be so silent in that case? Or would they be in the streets screaming their outrage?

    It seems obvious the Tea Party would be outraged by a similar law that effected white people in exactly the same manner that this bill effects Mexicans.

    But the AZ law is just fine to the Tea Party members because it effects only brown people, hispanics. This kind of biased and discriminatory thinking is the essence of racism.

    The Tea Party is not racist? Think again...

    May 3, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  14. Rick

    Put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig.

    May 3, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. hjs3

    That's a flat out misstatement based on what I hear here first hand in Florida......

    May 3, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. Drew

    A wise thing to say, a long time in saying it. Unfortunately, the Tea Party let's its overtly bigoted - and more extreme in general - adherents define the movement early on. That'll be tough to overcome.

    May 3, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Save America, impeach the treasonous republicans

    That is a good one. I am still laughing.

    May 3, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. A. Goodwin

    What a bunch of B.S. – these people have done nothing but push neo-conservative republican banter. Isn't it so nice that they can come out NOW – months after racists remarks and signage depicting our president in disgusting ways? I'd LOVE to see the coverage of those racists being removed from their events. Otherwise, they are just blowing smoke up our butts. Seriously – anyone who believes this cr@p is as nutty as they are.

    May 3, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Why did it take them 15 months to say this?

    May 3, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. GL

    The survey indicated that those Tea Party activists are older, better educated and more religious than the general public.

    Forgot to mention very RACIST AS WELL! One whole year of seeing these Tea Baggers and their actions toward the first black president is enough to turn off any minority group. Sorry lady most minorities are not buy what you are trying to sell.

    May 3, 2010 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Rickster

    the tea partiers are the same people who disrupted town hall meetings over health care. they can claim anything they want to now but they are still those astro turfed loud mouthed racists.

    May 3, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Seattle Sue

    Why does the news shots of Tea Party rallies look racist?

    May 3, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. TPS

    They've got to be kidding right? They don't tolerate racism? Obviously a lot of them are not, but if they shed all the racists from their group, they'd have very few people left. Pretty much every single Tea Party affiliate I've met personally (quite a few) are all about race, immigrants, HIS people, taking America back from the Mexicans (I'm in Texas), and a thousand other racism-tinged ideals. It's not like they're the Clan, but they are definitely nostalgic for old fashioned white America. That's no spin by the media, that's the facts. If you don't believe me, go out and talk to some of these Tea Party members and ask them what they think is wrong with America. You'll see what I found out first-hand.

    May 3, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. NY

    Ridiculous how they now try to separate themselves from the obvious. Even Glen Beck has bent over backwards to say..."If something happens we never meant violence" Exactly who do they think they are fooling? Crosshairs, “Reload”!

    May 3, 2010 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  25. wycliffe

    why are u not inviting other races to the tea party

    May 3, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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