Coffee Party founder says there is no movement to oust her in effort to become more radical

Alex Pappas | Political Reporter

Annabel Park says there’s no coup in the works to remove her as the leader of the Coffee Party movement and replace her with someone more angry, radical and willing to be confrontational with conservatives. But a recent article in Newsweek suggests otherwise.

Park, contacted through Facebook, criticized the Newsweek article and it’s author Steve Tuttle for quoting a woman at a Washington DC Coffee Party who said the movement would die “unless we get someone a little more powerful.”

“Steve spoke to one person at one event who was curious enough to attend. She is not one of the organizers and I don’t know any movement to oust me. He needed to look for conflict and exaggerated what he came across,” Park told The Daily Caller.

The much-hyped Coffee Parties grew out of a YouTube video posted online by Park calling for an alternative to the conservative, grassroots Tea Party movement.

Newsweek is not the only publication Park appears to be frustrated with. When The Daily Caller put in a request to interview her on whether the Coffee Party remains committed to having civil conversations over policy — as she originally billed it when the idea for the meetups was unveiled — Park replied by saying she does not like the “style of reporting” on the Coffee Party from this reporter.

The article in Newsweek suggests that angry liberals who hate Tea Partiers have hijacked Park’s party. The magazine’s reporter wrote that Park, during a recent Coffee Party meeting Washington’s Busboys and Poets café, “regularly tried to steer the talk back to the group’s more centrist principles,” but one of the 80 attendees told him that, “I like the civility idea, but I hate the Tea Party people.”

[F]rom the moment folks in the crowd stood up to speak their minds, Park knew these people had not come to sip cappuccinos and set an example of civility for an overheated nation. They were angry. They hated the Tea Party, and the Republican Party. They wanted to get even. One audience member said America was under the thumb of oligarchs and denounced “moneyed interests.” A few people hissed when Sarah Palin’s name was mentioned.

The article also suggested Coffee Partiers would like a leader, unlike Park, who would be less shy about going after Tea Partiers and conservatives:

By the end of the event, some in the crowd had decided the movement, barely two months old at the time, needed a new leader. China Dickerson, a 26-year-old community organizer, said the Coffee Party wouldn’t last “unless we get someone a little more powerful to head it.” She wanted a rabble-rouser, “not someone that says we can all work together.” Park seemed a little rattled after the meeting. “If they want to fire me, this may not be the group for them,” she said later. “We don’t want conflict and confrontation.”

Dickerson, who said she has organized several Coffee Party events, walked back her comments slightly during an interview with The Daily Caller, saying it was not her “intention to say that [Park] needed to be replaced,” but did say Park may not have the best characteristics for a leadership role.

“As some of the magazines [have] said about Annabel, she’s nice and she has a nice smile, and so forth and that’s fine, but I think the purpose of the Coffee Party is to get things done and having a smile isn’t — it take a little bit more than that.”

She also said having a strong Coffee Party leader is necessary to be “a little more recognized and noted, because right now we’re just known as the opposition party to the Tea Party and we don’t want to be known as that.”

Dickerson, who returned to Washington after serving in the Peace Corps, said she completely agrees with Park on her vision for the Coffee Party, but isn’t crazy about its name because it, of course, sounds like a knock off of the Tea Party.

The goal of the Coffee Party, Dickerson said, should be to bring “everyone together to work together” in a movement like the “civil rights, the women’s movement [and] the homosexual movement.”

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