As ThinkProgress reported Thursday, a Richmond, Virginia-area Holiday Inn abruptly canceled room and event ballroom reservations made by progressive groups that had planned to hold a “jobs rally” countering House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) event at the same hotel Wednesday evening. After they were removed, the groups held a protest outside the hotel. Holiday Inn’s corporate owner, Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG), did not comment on the incident before publication yesterday, but today IHG responded, saying the protesters were removed from Holiday Inn property out of concerns for employee and guest safety:
IHG is aware of the protest that occurred at the Holiday Inn Richmond Koger South Conference Center. This hotel is independently owned and operated. IHG does not dictate local hotel operating policy for such franchised properties other than to require all hotels bearing its trademarks to comply with all federal, state and local laws, including laws regarding peaceful protests. The group in question was asked to leave the hotel due to concerns for the safety and security of hotel guests and employees. When the group returned to lead a protest, the hotel cooperated with authorities, who requested that the protestors leave the hotel property. All further inquiries should be directed to the Chesterfield County Police Department.
Unfortunately, the statement fails to address why or how the groups’ reservations were a threat to public safety. The groups’ rally was planned for a ballroom in a separate portion of the hotel, and they planned to invite Cantor to speak to the group and listen to their concerns. After they were removed, the protesters assembled out of the hotel’s sight range, across the street and a shopping center parking lot from where the hotel is located. Upon marching to the hotel, they appeared to comply with law enforcement requests throughout the protest. According to police, there were no arrests made during the protests.
When ThinkProgress asked IHG to comment further on how the protesters were a safety threat, whether it had heard specific claims from employees or guests concerning their safety, or whether it had spoken with Cantor’s office or campaign before removing the protesters, the company declined to comment, saying only, “At this time, this is the extent of the information we are able to provide. All further questions should be directed to the Chesterfield County Police Department.”