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. GA Teacher

    I am an African American teacher who teaches as a predominately white school in Savannah, GA and I have to completely disagree with this article. There were several Tea Party protest here, and there were no minorities in attendance. The news here even mentioned the racial aspect. Several signs at the protests made racial references (Obama as a tribal man, send him back to Africa, blacks move back etc.). As an Educator, it upset me greatly that I had to explain to my students that references to his skin color had nothing to do with his politics. He is the POTUS, not the President of African Americans. The racial overtones are very obvious and it is very upsetting that the Tea Party will not acknowledge that using his race and casting him as different is not the main rationale behind how they market themselves to the public.

    May 3, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Oh I can't wait until the blasting starts regarding 'The Tea Party' from the ones that have NEVER been to one. They keep their blinders on and believe what their mentors such as Janeane Garofalo and Chris Matthews tell them.

    May 3, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. soneill

    I was amazed at how wonderful all of the tea party people were at the Apirl 15th rally in Atlanta. Ironically, the most captivating speaker was the black guy (i've honestly forgotten his name- he has a radio show).There is no racism here. Blacks, by their very nature, have a high rate of entrepreneurship – they ARE business owners. The so called system sometimes is not too good for them,and as a result, many have started their own businesses. Not all of them line up blindly to support Obama, just because he is black.

    May 3, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. HeyHey

    Yep, racists will be asked to leave a Tea Party event as soon as the news cameras show up. Otherwise, no harm no foul, right?

    May 3, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. Bubba

    Pictures or it didn't happen; I'd love to see even one picture of a racist being escorted away from a Tea Bag Party with his Obama Joker poster drooping sadly. She's a liar!

    May 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    And how do you make sure of that? Why wasn't there this concern during the Bush administration? There were budgets that were way out of proportion and military conflicts that weren't being factored in to the budget? How did you not protest that? If you want less government spending, then where were you?

    May 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. Chris

    So, there's two Tea Party Groups then? The racist Tea Party and the non-racist Tea Party? The only people at Tea Party rallies I see on TV are full racist people hold very inappropriate signs and are yelling racists comments. When is the non-racist Tea Party going to make it's presence known?

    May 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. Allison

    Founding principals of our country? You mean those founding principals that only white, property owners could vote? And that women should be subjective to men? That the natives don't deserve their rights, and that black people should be slaves? Yeah, we should definitely refer back to their principals all the time! They also didn't want any laws to be made simply from religious views as that's what they were escaping from to begin with, but the conservatives, Christians, and Republicans want to use the government to force their religious beliefs about women's bodies and homosexuality on every citizen, believer or not.

    May 3, 2010 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  9. T'SAH from Virginia

    NO, the Coffee Party is for all minorities and we get along – Right, Middle and Left – with CIVILITY!!

    "...We're there for our core values. We want to reclaim our founding principles in this country..." Martin quoted.

    Founding principles eliminate African Americans and other minorities – slavery is part of the so-called 'founding principles." So what makes you think I – as an African American – am welcomed in your party?

    On another note, you allowed Bachmann, Palin, Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, etc., to define your party. You also said that only the 'true Americans' – the Americans from those 'small pockets of America' you are fighting for.

    Why didn't you repudiate the racist remarks and signs that were part of your group? NO ONE ever did publicly!!! Instead, you defended them. You hid behind the remarks in order to separate yourself. Why are you 'pushing' moderate Republicans out of your group because they are not 'far-right' enough? Is this a group that is willing to be bipartisan and/or welcome all – including minorities??? You’re saying YES now because you are dying as a group and as a last resort, you’re trying to clean yourself up………………..TOO LATE!!

    May 3, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. jeremiah

    So where these protectors of liberty, and freedom, when "Curious-George" was ruining the country and stepping all over the constitution? I guess their philosophy is, “It is alright for a “southern-white-male” with limited intelligence and abilities to do as he pleases, but the African American cannot try and correct it. He is “Too Presumptuous.”

    May 3, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. L

    Sounds good, but the Tea Party has also insisted that it is not a formal group and has no official leadership. So, how does she suddenly speak for the movement.

    Looking at the news photos of Tea Party placards and banners at their rallies, I seriously doubt the sincerity of her remarks. At the very least, her definition of "racist" is far more limited than that held by many others.

    I'll believe her remarks more, when we see news footage of those with the extreme placards being asked (ordered?) to remove them.

    May 3, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. hiCalb

    here here ...

    ethnicity is a part of culture and all cultures have those that believe in conservative values.

    small government, fiscal responsibility, voluntary charity to neighbors in need ..... individual responsibility and accountability, honoring and building each other up without the government meddling or watching over our shoulders, freedom of religion with not government hindering or supporting one denomination over another; and government acting as the civil authority to enforce just laws to protect the individual and the nation.

    May 3, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  13. Independent_me

    Yeah, right!

    Is that why you people carry signs that depict the president as a monkey, a tribal witch doctor, etc???

    I you act like a racist, you must be a racist!

    Puh-leese!

    May 3, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. MikinAZ

    She says, they want to "reclaim our founding principles in this country" – Yet the members chant they want to "takeback their country" – 2 very different positions. Take back our country was their original cry and when you consider who these angry white people want to take it back from – they are obviously racist. With the bad press and idiots that have made this group into a joke – they are obviously in damage control mode.

    May 3, 2010 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. Wake UP

    The media is trying sooooooooooooo hard to not focus on the policy of a the tea party, and trying to stir anything to shame these people.

    The general idea of the tea party is simple:
    *A return the the ways of the constitution, which call for a limited federal government. Can anyone defend or show history of a successful big / socialized government? The left wing media like CNN tries in any way possbible to call names and distract.

    May 3, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. whatnext

    "We want to reclaim our founding principles in this country." I thought you took back the country 4/15/09?

    May 3, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. Travis

    All this is is some extremists made stupid comments and then CNN and a few others news outlets ran with it big time. No matter how much Fox does to report the news, everyone calls them biased for doing the same thing, yet when CNN and other places do it then nothing even gets mentioned about it.

    May 3, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. shadysider

    While the Tea Party isn't inherently racist, the anti-immigration, (unwarranted) anti-Obama sentiment (let him lead us falsely into a war against people who didn't attack us before wanting his head – It's why public sentiment turned), and the resounding feeling of 'losing our country' at Tea Parties certainly seems to a perfect political fit for racists.

    May 3, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Marc L from NY

    Conservatives, the Tea Party included, have always been labeled racist. It is easy to understand but inaccurate. Statistically, a large portion of minorities do not believe in the values of conservatives, values like self reliance and smaller government. Watching politicians during the election season shows this point perfectly. Democrats battle for the minority votes, and how do they do it? By offering them government help. That goes against the grain of a conservative. Statistics and racism are two different things.

    May 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Hows that oil slick coming along drillers?

    The tea party lost all credibility when Dick Armey got involved.

    May 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Pedro

    Uh huh. They're supposedly protesting takes AFTER their taxes went down. They had no problem paying higher taxes under Bush. But now they're upset. Obviously, they're upset about something other than taxes. But can't come right out and say. You see a lot of confederate flags and swastikas at their rallies. So that should tell you something.

    May 3, 2010 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Bobby

    Fiscal responsibility? Seriously? Then where were you during Bush's reign?

    May 3, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  23. kyle from ohio

    As of When, I've been to several Tea Parties and I did not feel welcomed at all. you know someone always explaining, that the speaker or the shouts from the crowds were not what they really stand for. Being a person who has heard someone explain that their friend is really a decend person, and really not a hater. for most of my life yeah right!!!!

    May 3, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Too late Tea Party

    What about guns, and religiouis fundamentalism ?
    Why no mention of these core tea party values ?

    May 3, 2010 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Angel Alvarez

    Can Ms. Martin respond to the concerns some of us have with this new Tea Party as it seems they do not truly represent the views across America. How many individuals of latin heritage are in her party? How many black Americans are in her party? How many gay people in her party?

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