Knoxville Tea Party denies NAACP claims of racism

Knoxville Tea Party denies NAACP claims of racism

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By HARLOW SUMERFORD
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Knoxville Tea Party chairman denies claims by the NAACP of tea party groups being too closely linked to racist individuals and groups.

The report prepared for the NAACP warns of racism, anti-Semitism and the militia impulse within the movement.

It says at one point, "Tea party leaders have promoted and provided a platform to known racists and anti-Semites on multiple occasions."

"The people that come to the meetings are the people who go to the rallies so they understand we are not just a bunch of rabble rousers. We are actually intelligent people who believe this movement is something that needs to be protected because it is being attacked," said Knoxville Tea Party Chairman Jonathon Baloga.

The Knoxville chapter of the NAACP says only the state office in Nashville will answer tea party related questions. However, the Nashville office didn't return calls from 6 News.

Local tea party members are questioning the timing of the report, and say they'll continue to focus on their mission.

"We are concerned about our government receiving 2.1 trillion in income last year and spending out $3.5. We just feel like we as a country need to focus on these issues right there so we don't pay much attention to things like this that people say," Baloga said.

He also says this is not the first time the NAACP has accused tea party members of racism. He says he's tried to meet with the organization, but officials declined.

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