Sunday, August 26, 2007

Minutemen Extremists Barred from Hotel

Judge bars Minutemen Extremists

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WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge on Thursday ordered an anti-illegal immigration group to stay away from the Crystal Lake Holiday Inn, in part because the group breached its contract with the hotel.

The Illinois Minuteman Project had scheduled a conference for Saturday in Crystal Lake, but hotel management decided to cancel the group’s reservation. Judge Maureen McIntyre affirmed that decision on Thursday.

Minuteman director Rosanna Pulido called the ruling bittersweet.

“While I’m grieved, I’m also happy that every American citizen can see what our country is turning into and what will happen if we don’t wake up and address illegal immigration,” Pulido said.

Suzanne Walters, an attorney for the Minuteman Project, said the hotel was stifling her organization’s right to free speech. But McIntyre said the case had little to do with protected rights.

“I don’t think this question here before the court today boils down to an infringement of [free speech] rights,” she said.

The hotel’s attorneys filed an emergency restraining order request Thursday afternoon.

McIntyre agreed with hotel attorneys that Pulido violated the contract because she wasn’t up front with who she really represented and didn’t provide proper proof of insurance. Pulido signed a contract with the hotel last month, when she identified herself only as the event coordinator for the Sheriff Daniel Beck Immigration Conference.

It wasn’t until another group contacted the hotel about staging a protest to the Minuteman conference that hotel staff members realized that Pulido was the leader of an anti-illegal immigration group, attorneys said.

"They realized they were duped,” said Rita Alliss Powers, one of the hotel’s attorneys. “These meetings have a history of drawing a lot of very visceral reaction and protest.”

The private conference was supposed to host about 100 people to hear Allen County, Ohio, Sheriff Daniel Beck discuss his efforts to identify and seek deportation of illegal immigrants.

The event was set continue as planned until Wednesday, when the Crystal Lake Police Department informed the hotel that it would have to spend up to $3,500 on extra police forces to handle protesters.

Under the contract with the hotel, the Minuteman are supposed to cover the cost of security. But the Minuteman said they would not pay.

“Why don’t the protesters who are causing the problems have to pay for the $3,500?” Pulido asked.

Hotel attorneys said they canceled the Minuteman event because hotel management was worried about the safety of the hotel’s patrons and the hotel's image if guests were to see a SWAT team lingering nearby.

“This is a hotel that has weddings and conferences, and all of the sudden they’re going to have to have armed guards on this property because of this, quote, conference,” Alliss Powers said. “Can you imagine the family that’s just passing through on their vacation and this is the event taking place at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake?”


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