ThinkProgress filed this report from Richmond, Virginia.
Progressive groups organizing a rally at the same Richmond-area hotel where House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was holding an event Wednesday were abruptly kicked out of the hotel and told by hotel management to remain off of its property during Cantor’s event.
Cantor held an Advisory Council gathering, closed to the media but open to constituents who registered ahead of time, at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Richmond. A coalition of progressive Virginia organizing groups — Progress Virginia, OurDC, and Virginia Organizing — had booked rooms and a separate ballroom in the hotel to hold a “jobs rally” countering Cantor’s event. According to organizers, the groups planned to invite Cantor to attend their rally after his own event, in the hope that he would listen to their concerns regarding job creation and unemployment.
But just hours before the events were set to begin, the Holiday Inn canceled the groups’ ballroom and room reservations and ordered the groups to remain off of hotel property during Cantor’s meeting. According to organizers, hotel management falsely accused them of smoking in their rooms and used that as justification to cancel their reservations. A representative of Holiday Inn who only agreed speak on the condition of anonymity, however, said the hotel was seeking to avoid confrontation between the progressive groups and those attending the Cantor event. He would not comment on whether the hotel had any communications with Cantor or his staff regarding the progressive groups.
Attempts to reach both Cantor’s office and Holiday Inn’s corporate offices for comment prior to publication were unsuccessful. In an interview with a local news station, Cantor acknowledged that he saw the protesters but said, “I don’t see how that’s productive. … (It was) a very productive event. I’m not quite so sure how that was productive outside.”
After their reservations were canceled, the progressive groups assembled across the street and began marching to the hotel, where they were met by Virginia state police officers and hotel management demanding that they remain off Holiday Inn property. The protesters remained assembled between the Holiday Inn and the street, where they held signs protesting Cantor’s record on job creation and his legislative priorities and chanted that they wanted Cantor to focus on jobs. Multiple protesters told stories of their unemployment over a megaphone as police and hotel management looked on.
The protesters then marched back across the street, out of sight from the hotel, and held a rally similar to the one they had planned inside the hotel, with more stories of unemployment and hardship brought on by the economic recession. Watch video of the march:
According to police, who said they were only enforcing the Holiday Inn’s wishes to keep the protesters off of private property, there were no arrests during the protests.