Thousands of People Are Protesting Hyatt For Hosting Controversial Group
Tens of thousands of people are protesting Hyatt hotels after the chain said it would allow a controversial political group to hold a convention at one of its properties beginning Tuesday.
Think Progress reports that the Hyatt Regency Crystal City confirmed last week it will be the venue for the ACT for America conference. The group is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for anti-Muslim rhetoric. According to SPLC, with "750,000 members and more than 1,000 chapters, the group has undoubtedly grown to become the largest anti-Muslim group in America."
A group of several civil rights organizations submitted a petition with 100,000 signatures that demanded Hyatt back out of hosting the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. A group of 34 religious groups also signed a letter to the management of the Hyatt property, located in suburban Washington, DC, imploring them to cancel the conference.
Mila Delfin, the assistant to the general manager at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City told Think Progress that the hotel “made a decision not to discriminate against any group because they have freedom of speech, too. We made a decision not to cancel this meeting.”
ACT for America resists the label "hate group." Its founder, Brigitte Gabriel said in a statement "The accusation that our organization could be classified as a 'white supremacist and anti-Muslim Hate Group' is as baseless as it is absurd. To claim that an organization founded by Brigitte Gabriel - a brown-skinned, ethnically Lebanese Arab, with lifelong and heartfelt support for Israel, could qualify as a 'white supremacist' organization, exposes those who spew such falsehoods for their bias and deception."
A Hyatt spokesperson told TPG "that the varied views of our hotel guests and organizations accommodated by Hyatt hotels are not always shared by our company."
“We believe Hyatt hotels have a responsibility to continue providing a forum for people to respectfully and peacefully exercise their first amendment right to free speech, so long as in doing so they do not endanger any of our guests or colleagues," the hotel chain spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "Hyatt has made the decision not to discriminate against groups who meet peacefully simply because we disagree with their messaging or because their values are different than ours."
Other hotel chains, like Marriott, have similar policies regarding political groups' conferences and have also come under fire for them, too.
The controversy comes after a summer in which other travel brands took political stands — mainly airlines that refused to fly immigrant children who had been separated from their parents by the US government at the US-Mexico border.