Executives of an Anaheim hotel, saying they have received threats from several sources, have refused to book accommodations for Operation Rescue, a New York-based anti-abortion group that plans to blockade several Southern California family planning clinics later this week.
“The general manager recognized they are a very controversial group and did receive a threat from another source saying if he let Operation Rescue people stay at the hotel, they had better tighten their security,” said Mary Garcia, public relations manager for the Ramada Hotel Group in Phoenix, which holds a franchise for the Ramada Main Gate, across from Disneyland.
“He recognized this as a potentially dangerous situation for the other guests in the hotel,” Garcia said of the decision not to book 50 to 100 rooms for Operation Rescue.
In addition, Jeff Adler, a spokesman for the hotel, said the group was not welcome because they did not meet standard hotel requirements to provide a list of names of those who would be staying and to pay a room deposit.
Adler also said that members of Operation Rescue tried to intimidate the hotel management into providing facilities. “They threatened to take it to Time magazine unless we do as they say.”
Speaking on behalf of the Anaheim facility’s owner, Roger Manfred, Adler said: “This hotel will not be held hostage by any group.”
Ken Tanner, director of the Operation Rescue office in Garden Grove, denounced the hotel’s decision and called it “religious discrimination” at a news conference in the hotel parking lot Tuesday afternoon.
Tanner said about 500 anti-abortion protesters--including Operation Rescue’s founder, Randall Terry--are arriving in Southern California from around the nation to participate in sit-ins at undisclosed clinics in Los Angeles and Orange counties through Saturday. About 200 of those were expected to need hotel rooms in Orange County, where he said nightly rallies will be held.
The rejection by the hotel will not affect plans to blockade entrances of about three to five clinics a day for three days, beginning Thursday morning, spokesmen for Operation Rescue said.
The organization, which claims 20,000 arrests of its members during scores of sit-ins nationwide over the past year, has created havoc in courts and jails in Atlanta, and in Sunnyvale in Northern California. Organizers expect about 2,000 people to participate in the sit-ins at Southland clinics, and hundreds of pro-choice activists have pledged to be on hand to defend the rights of women to obtain medical services.
Tanner said Operation Rescue had planned to use the Ramada as a base during the protests and had reached an agreement Friday with the sales manager to provide rooms as available, an information table in the lobby and referral information to Operation Rescue followers who called from the airport. He said no deposit had been required.
But on Monday afternoon, he said, his organization received word that there would be no rooms available after all for Operation Rescue. Tanner said the sales manager confirmed that there was a “political problem” in housing the group.
“My question is--and Randall Terry’s question is--can people be discriminated against based on their political and religious preferences?” Tanner asked.
He said the group will staff an information table it plans to set up in the Ramada parking lot to advise “rescuers” of other hotels available in the area.
Tanner speculated that the telephone threat may have come from someone who learned of Operation Rescue’s plans to stay at the Ramada through the group’s telephone hot line.
He added that he suspects pressure was exerted on the hotel manager by either an outsider who called the number, or by someone in the hotel.
“There must be a strong pro-abort community here,” he said.
Anaheim police said Tuesday that they have not been notified of any threats made against the hotel.