Hundreds of protesters converged on the Marriott Wardman Park hotel this afternoon to protest the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying the group represents the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Carrying tents, giant inflatables and banners, the group swarmed the hotel entrance around noon.
The protesters represented various unions, progressive groups and Occupy D.C. — timing their event to Mitt Romney’s planned speech to thousands of conservatives attending the conference.
“I’m here to tell Mitt Romney and CPAC to stop giving tax breaks to the rich, and create good jobs for the 99 percent,” said John Butler, an unemployed District resident who is part of a group called Our DC. “We want them to see us, hear us, feel us.”
The protesters, including representatives from the Teamsters and United Auto Workers, erected giant tents on the sidewalk as well as a one-story inflatable designed to resemble a “fat cat.”
But District police and hotel security maintained a heavy presence, largely keeping protesters confined to the sidewalk. About 12:30 pm, dozens of protesters suddenly marched up to driveway toward the door of the hotel, but police cars and officers quickly formed a barrier preventing them from entering.
A few CPAC attendees hurled insults at the protesters, such as “get a job,” but most appeared amused or quietly watched the demonstration from hotel grounds.
“I think its good to see people express themselves,” said Bryn Mahan, 23, of Virginia Beach. “Its not a demonstration I agree with, but its great to see people passionate.”
Additional demonstrations are planned later Friday, and some conservatives have expressed concern about the potential for violence.
Late last year, hundreds of Occupy DC protesters trapped conservatives attending an Americans for Prosperity conference in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
But District police have since adjusted their tactics to become more observant of the protests.