Beverly Hills Hotel Faces Protesters at GOP Congressman's Fundraiser
A protest outside a Republican fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Hotel didn't pick up as much steam as expected on Friday, with fewer than 10 union members holding signs and shouting at the rush hour traffic.
Holding signs reading "This Hotel is Owned by Homophobes" and "Protect Women," members of the labor union Unite Here were on the scene to protest a Polo Lounge event for Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky.
Unite Here rep Leigh Shelton said Hollywood was supportive of an ongoing boycott of the hotel's ownership by the Sultan of Brunei, but that more needed to be done to make out-of-state visitors such as Rep. Whitfield aware, noting one of the cars pulling into the hotel had a Wyoming license plate.
"We are here today to send a strong message to out-of-towners that this hotel is off limits," Shelton told The Hollywood Reporter.
In the midst of the protest THR spotted Rod Stewart's son Sean Stewart sitting in the passenger seat of a car that pulled into the hotel at approximately 6:30 p.m. A protester attempted to hand Stewart a flyer.
The Beverly Hills Hotel has faced protests and canceled events by members of the Hollywood community beginning in mid-April, when the activist organization The Gill Fund moved a planned event due to the Sultan of Brunei's penal code.
Under Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's leadership, the Southeast Asian nation enacted a Sharia law penal code that includes harsh penalties for gays and adulterers. Bolkiah controls the Dorchester Collection of hotels via his Brunei Investment Agency.
Shelton said Unite Here represents 20,000 hospitality workers in Los Angeles and Orange County, however Beverly Hill Hotel employees are not members of the union. She said Dorchester hotels have been on the union's radar since 2011, when it claims the Hotel Bel-Air unfairly fired longtime employees, using hotel renovations as an excuse.
Ahead of Rep. Whitfield's fundraiser, the Human Rights Campaign issued a statement calling it "deeply disappointing" the congressman had chosen the hotel as his location. The group has been encouraging organizations to relocate events from the Dorchester location. Whitfield has multiple events scheduled at the Polo Lounge and poolside over the weekend.
A Beverly Hills Hotel public relations rep did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the protest. A Dorchester rep also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.