April 14th, 2010
07:27 PM ET
10 years ago

Tea Party activists battle criticisms

Naveed Easton was one of a smattering of counter-protesters at a Tea Party rally Wednesday in Boston.

Naveed Easton was one of a smattering of counter-protesters at a Tea Party rally Wednesday in Boston.

Boston (CNN) - Tea Party activists cast their cause as a patriotic movement from Americans fearful about the nation's direction during a rally Wednesday in Boston's Common. But their message clashed with critics who cast Tea Party activists as "victims of misinformation."

The well-attended event featured a long roster of speakers, including former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. It's the last stop before the Tea Party Express 3 national tour ends in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

Virtually all of the speakers at the Boston event railed against the Obama administration's policies, which they believe highlight big government run amok.

But Tea Party activists also found themselves on the receiving end of criticism from a smattering of anti-Tea Party protesters in the crowd.
To be sure, the number of critics at the rally was small compared to the Tea Party activists. But the volume of the opposing criticism was evident.

Tea Party opponent Mike Hoban said that Tea Party activists "are people that are the victims of misinformation campaigns" and that the Tea Party movement does not represent "the concerns of most Americans."

Levi Russell, communications director for the Tea Party Express 3 tour, disagreed and told CNN that the Tea Party movement supports the rights of their critics to speak their minds.

"It's a constitutional movement. And a big part of that is freedom of speech," Russell said. "One of the reasons that we're here is that we're standing up for their right to say what they want."

But inflamed passions on both sides sparked at least one protracted argument between a crowd of Tea Party members and a single opponent.
In the verbal clash, the angry throng of Tea Party activists surrounded 20-year-old Naveed Easton, incensed by a neon green sign he held that read, "White people are pissed."

"What were you thinking when you wrote that?" a woman's shouted at Easton.

In an exchange of impassioned and heated words, the 20-year-old said he was trying to make a point about how extreme he believes Tea Party activists are.

Easton said he was fed up with "people ignorantly throwing terms like communism, socialism, Marxism, fascism that they don't know and they can't define."

"It's a ridiculous movement," Easton said as he was surrounded by supporters of the movement.

Tea Party activists are especially sensitive to any claim from their critics that they harbor racist thoughts. Activists adamantly state they oppose President Barack Obama's policies – not his race – although Tea Party protesters have often carried signs and shouted slogans that could be interpreted as racist.

Some Tea Party leaders have said such signs stoke a negative stereotype against the movement, but others – including New York Tea Party gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino – have forwarded e-mails depicting Obama and the first lady as an 80s-era pimp and prostitute and a video of an African tribal dance entitled "Obama Inaugural Rehearsal."

Filed under: Massachusetts • Sarah Palin • Tea Party movement
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. m smith

    Way to go Easton. It is about time someone stood up to these hayseeds. They make wild accusations about people with no knowledge as to what the words really mean. People like palidon should not be able to run for dog catcher. They act offended when half the stuff they say and half the signes they carry have a racist message. People are getting really tired of all this hate and name calling. Palin and the fox crew should be run out on a rail for inciting these crazys.

    April 14, 2010 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. jbakaregit

    Thank you Mr. Easton. That's right, they couldn't define those words if you gave them a dictionary. All of a sudden, they are awake after Bush and his party nearly took this country down the toilet.

    If the tea party people actually looked at their tax statements, if they made less than $250,000 a year they got a refund. I do and I did. And the economy is showing signs of coming back.

    April 14, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. ed fl

    The Tea Party is not to smart when a dummy like an incompetent mother , job Quitting governor, who had to bail out to escape investigations on all kinds of government misdeeds and now is putting the screws to people pretending to want to help when the only one getting helped is her purse. The same reason she had to quit as governor and she will desert you as soon as she is recognized for what she really is and that is taking advantage of friends or unfortunate citizens. the original tea party was for all people not a single .swindler.

    April 14, 2010 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  4. one voice

    These fellow Americans are at this moment benefiting from all the hard work our standing President is doing to step on the toes of Corporate America who are teamed with the GOP to eliminate the middle class. BTW: Fox news is on that EVIL team also.

    April 14, 2010 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  5. Teapartysucks

    Get 'em dude.

    April 14, 2010 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. mrgmorgan56

    If the Tea Party wants credibility, this first thing they should put on their agenda is to dump that idiot Palin. Otherwise, they are just a group of emotional thinkers with no message other than we can talk and talk and talk and say absolutely nothing.

    April 14, 2010 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. Les Government

    Tea Party folks want less government, but have them take a stand against government regulation of abortion? What happened to a mother's right to chose?

    April 14, 2010 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Nita from Detroit

    Oderly dissent is good but unfortunately the Tea Partiers are inciting hatred and racial tension. There is never or should never be a legimate reason for anyone to spit on another human being or refer to that person with racial slurs. I am truly concerned with the atmosphere that is developing in this country. As Americans we have always respected our leaders even when we disagreed with them. It makes me wonder what is the real goal of the tea people.

    April 14, 2010 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  9. Florida Native

    I bet Mr. Easton can't define Capitalism , has never had any education in free market economics, and doesn't know the definition of an Oligarchy.

    And we can define Communism, Socialism, and Marxism and we can recognize the parallels. Unfortunately those in Mr. Easton's age range have been sufficiently brainwashed, so much so that they apparently don't believe that redistribution of wealth is Socialism.

    I feel sorry for Mr. Easton and like-minded young people. They are completely oblivious to the future that awaits them and will never understand what true freedom and liberty mean. They will forever be indebted to and therefore slaves of the nanny state.

    April 14, 2010 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    In the 1770s, in the years leading up to the American Revolution, there was a loose not-quite-an-organisation of hot-heads in Boston, to some extent organised by Sam Adams, that, aside from the clothes the wore, were the exact analogue of the modern Tea Parties.

    We all know what that led to...

    April 14, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  11. The Calabash Kid

    Tea Party events are as spontaneous as a Pro-Ahmedinijad rally in Tehran. Republican Party operatives are pulling all the strings and the yokels are providing street theater. This is supposed to look like a grass-roots movement, but the average participants seem lost in space, out to lunch, or bewildered. They do not understand what they are saying, they don't know how politics works, they do not understand the budget, the deficit, the national debt, taxation, or anything. "Give us our country back!" "Why isn't anyone listening?" They are children lost in the woods.

    A bunch of guys with poofy hair and $2000 suits are playing them like harmonicas. In the end, all the tea baggers will vote for the Republican nominee or maybe an occasional Libertarian.

    April 14, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  12. Thomas Jefferson

    It's not easy being a revolutionary.

    April 14, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  13. 1/2

    A twenty year old does not have a clue about much of anything except what he reads on twitter, face book, my space and other useless gossip venues.

    April 14, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. E

    If they do not want people to think they are racist, they should condemn and stop their members from waving racist signs and yelling ignorant racist things. You can't cater to ignorance and violence and then complain when people call you out on it.

    April 14, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. GuyinVA

    I would ask Mr. Easton why he would waste his time attending the rally, if the Tea Party movement is such a "ridiculous movement". Also, it would appear that Mr. Easton carried the only race related sign at this rally.

    April 14, 2010 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. laurence

    They are what they are.

    April 14, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  17. Luke Brown

    The so-called Tea Party is just the same old complainer who are against everything. Trust me, this phenomenon is just a creation of a couple of clever right-wing PR firms and lazy reporting at FOX-wannabe CNN.

    April 14, 2010 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. Squigman

    I'm sure there are some within the ranks of the so called tea party that have concerns, but I'm afraid the majority are radicals that are more interested in being a part of a group to bolster their sagging self esteem and possibly getting their likeness on the television. I've heard many statistics about these people, but nothing concerning educational backround. Regardless, they have not yet, nor do I believe they will ever be able to sway my decision on any matter or subject. And, I doubt they will even enter my thoughts while in the voting booth.

    April 14, 2010 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. S.B.

    I think misinformation is a huge problem in this country. People don't read newspapers and they're led around by the nose by the likes of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh. I've heard people refer to President Obama as a socialist, and I doubt that most of them have the foggiest idea what a socialist is. Or the next thing you know they're referring to him as a fascist so obviously they don't know the difference between the two. They're just repeating what they've heard from someone else.
    Getting people to think for themselves is a huge problem in this country, and cable news certainly doesn't help.

    April 14, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. Ancient Texan

    The pictures of the anti-Tea Party protestors show exactly what I expected, high school age children that don't have a clue what goes on in the real world. That was the segment of the population that I was sure, during the campaign, that would decide the election. They know nothing about world or domestic problems, but are caught up in hero worship of Obama.

    April 14, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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