The group Tea Party Patriots (TPP) blamed the melee at its Friday panel on conservatives and racism on an African-American woman reporter whose remarks the group called "disruptive and coercive." In a statement released on Saturday, TPP's K. Carl Smith allowed that some panelists and audience members had made "racially insensitive remarks," but the onus of the blame, he said, lies squarely with "a woman working for the Voice of Russia."
"I was invited by the Tea Party Patriots to conduct a breakout session entitled: 'Trump The Race Card' and share the Frederick Douglass Republican Message," wrote Smith, an African-American conservative and author of the book Frederick Douglass Republicans.
"In the middle of my delivery, while discussing the 1848 'Women’s Rights Convention,' I was rudely interrupted by a woman working for the Voice of Russia," Smith continued. "She abruptly asked me: 'How many black women were there?' This question was intentionally disruptive and coercive with no way of creating a positive dialogue."
According to historian Sally McMillan's 2008 book, Seneca Falls and the Origins of the Women's Rights Movement, Douglass was the only African-American in attendance at the 1848 meeting.
Smith also addressed the remarks of Scott Terry, an audience member who claimed to speak for the American South's "disenfranchised whites" and said that slavery wasn't such a bad thing and that "Blacks should be happy that the slave master gave them shelter, clothing, and food.”
Terry, who Smith was careful to stipulate, "wasn’t a Tea Party Patriot," made, in Smith's words, "some racially insensitive comments," but said that he and the other man "left as friends."
According to Salon, the panel became even more out-of-control when the Voice of Russia reporter took exception to Smith's assertion that the Democratic Party is to blame for the existence of the Ku Klux Klan, the notorious southern racist group.
When the woman accused Smith of being "disingenuous," the crowd began to shout her down, with cries of, "We don’t want your question,” and “We don’t want to hear it.”
One man, dressed in the tri-corner hat, waistcoat and breeches of a Revolutionary War soldier reportedly shouted at the woman insistently and repeatedly before storming out of the room. The panel ended shortly thereafter.