May 3rd, 2010
11:09 AM ET
12 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. Marry

    “We don’t tolerate racist behavior,” Tea Party Organizer says. Well, if what you stand for is not racist behavior and of cause also many other things like stupidity, hypocrisy, narrow mindedness, untrue statements (here we are back in the headline!) etc. then I will not even know what racist looks like to you.

    May 3, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. MikinAZ

    Do a video search. criteria = tea party anti healthcare parkinson patient. You will see the tru color of tea.

    May 3, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Indiana Voter

    The tea partiers must be doing something right if they upsetting so many of the liberals on this website. Nothing like seeing liberals have meltdowns.

    May 3, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Rosebud

    A day late and a dollar short... should have been doing that all along... not after the fact.

    May 3, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Papa_K

    For the 30 Short Term Memory Republicans; The Tea Party's first event was captured by CNN in video and pictures. They wanted to make a huge bang to show they had numbers so they really didn't care who showed. Let's not even figure in race at this point. However, the Tea Party accepted based on the 1st amendment rights to anyone who wanted to join in their events to speak their minds. Groups representing hate organizations and individuals showed up with signage that indicated this group had a hidden agenda rather than politics it was upset with the fact that the new President was Black. Maybe it's just convenient because he just happens to be Black but discussion over political issues is one thing when you hold a sign that reads: Someone please tell him it's a white house. Then I don't think we're going to get very far.

    I think the image has stuck with the Tea Party based on everyone's first impression and will stay for a very long time to come. In it's zeal to show numbers they slept with the wrong people and now it's reflecting upon them. Nothing they say can change that.

    May 3, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. Susan

    As long as they support Palin and her Load and Reload, as long as I see signs with Obama's face as the Joker, they promote Hate and that is just as bad as Racism.......They are the Party of Hate as the Republican Party is the Party of NO and I will never side with this Radical Group

    May 3, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Okay. First, let's get the "non-racist" thing out of the way. Ms. Martin, You Lie! Next, you stand for the "founding principles" of our country: fiscal conservatism (did you support the biggest tax cut in history for the wealthy?, billions for two "off-budget" wars?; 15% maximum tax for Wall St. execs who get millions in bonuses?). Limited government – would you like for the government to leave the resolution of the oil spill in the Gulf totally up to the goodness of BP? Free Markets: Will you be okay with BP charging $5 a gallon for gas to recover the money that they're going to have to spend on the oil spill and all of the other oil companies joining them in the raping of America?

    Ms. Martin, you and the Tea Party of full of CRAP!

    May 3, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. David

    The tea party "patriots" are not a grassroots movement; they are an astroturf movement. They will only help the rich get richer.

    May 3, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Not fooling me

    Uh-huh and that's why they yell and sream "take OUR country back" - that being the country of old, white people who like their social security and medicare, but do not like paying taxes because some of that money might go to "others" who need food stamps. They don't even make sense because while not wanting to pay taxes OR lose THEIR benefits they also want to decrease the deficit. They are not going to be able to have their cake and eat it too, but do not seem well-informed enought on the issues to understand that our country needs to make tough choices. I do not respect them at all and when I see "tea party" the first word that come into my mind is whiner.

    May 3, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. JPX

    I would love to conduct a study that examines the correlation between educational attainment and Tea Party affiliation. I'm certain results would indicate that the average Tea Partier has a high school education or less, which is why it's so easy to whip them up into a frenzy with misinformation.

    May 3, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. Lugman

    I am sure this young lady understands the meaning of "implicit" vs. "explicit" signals or messeges. Explicitly, she speaks of free markets, fiscal conservatism, and reclaiming the founding principles. However, implicitly there is a "coded" message of "I want to return to the days when being a white person meant something".

    Reclaim, the Presidency from a black man, Reclaim my superior status in society, Reclaim the status quo, which is in your favor. "Can Ronald Reagan and the Beaver come out to play"

    I realize that I have furthered you cuase for your "supramacy tending" followers. But I hope I have made it plain for minories who would consider your snake oil pitch.

    May 3, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. Philip

    I believe our founders embraced slavery... I believe our infant mortality rate was very high, I believe the average person lived much shorter lives, and women could not vote. Are these the values of our founders the Tea Party embraces ? We have evolved in the 234 years since our founding. I don't want to go back, I want to go forward. I suggest the Tea Party join the rest of us in moving our country into the 21st century !

    May 3, 2010 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. gino

    The founding principles made this the greatest country in the world and they do not incorporate racism. Those continually playing the race card cannot argue on principle but are in some way benefiting from huge, corrupt, unsustainable government.
    Obama intends to take this country far further from our principles than any predecessor, that's the reason for the current widespread rejection.

    May 3, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Beefington Jones

    I think by now everyone knows that anyone who doesn't approve of how our government is handling the country is racist. I'd like to thank CNN and our other major news organizations for perpetuating this mentality, because our government is 100% for the people and anyone questioning them should be shot.

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. p

    Wasn't it obvious that duly electing our first black U.S. President was going to eventually bring all the outraged redneck cockroaches out into the light?
    They can't help themselves.
    – And cockroaches are pretty easy to spot.

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Anna

    I think that Ms. Martin needs to show some proof that she does what she says that she does. Every time that I have seen one of their puny rallies, it is always tight shots so that the public won't be able to tell that there are only a few hundred people there, but we sure can read the racist signs.

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Bill Stapp

    I heard Bill Maher on TV talking about how racist the group of tea partiers was. To prove his point, he asked what the country would think of a large group of blacks running around waving guns and demanding attention?

    I thought that was fairly racist on his part to think that way. I would think it would be great if a large group of blacks gathered together to demand smaller government and lower taxes. Evidently, Mr. Maher does not think that is possible for his version of "black".

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. Bo Cat

    I wish Ms Martin would have started reclaiming her country and conservative values during the Clinton and Bush administrations. Why is it so important with President Obama's administration for her to come out and express such urgency to reclaim her subjects of interest. Where were you when previous administrations were helping create the problems that this President has inherited. Why did you not speakout against Mr Bush.

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. Nikki

    If they aren't racist then I'm the Queen of England. Since I'm not, I don't believe that rubbish for one instant.

    May 3, 2010 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    LMAO!!!! This group is made up of older white people. Has its member yelling slurrs at politians about sexual preference and race without denouncing their action and says "everyone is welcome"
    What is even funnier is to hear this woman say the group want to go back to our roots- those roots included slavery, women treated as second class citizens and segregation by country of origin.
    Our founding fathers, while brilliant in their foresight, where just like the Tea Party members- white, older and above average in wealth.
    Talk about elitist!

    May 3, 2010 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
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