PEARL RIVER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A fundraising dinner that’s quietly taken place for years is suddenly in the spotlight.
A suburban hotel is under pressure to cancel the event sponsored by Friends of NRA – the National Rifle Association.
The Hilton Pearl River sits in the corner where Rockland and Bergen counties meet and now finds itself at the intersection of the first and second amendments.
Joseph Coe and John Gromada are planning a protest at the Hilton for allowing the Hudson Valley Friends of NRA to hold its fundraising dinner on April 15.
The group has been hosting its fundraising dinner at various venues across Rockland County for more than 20 years. The event has grown in popularity, and they’re selling more tickets. So this year, they needed a bigger room.
But this year, anti-NRA fervor is higher than ever. Across the country, venues that book Friends of NRA events are under pressure to cancel.
Coe urges the Pearl River hotel to consider, “What are the impacts of hosting an even like this? What are our values?”
But gun rights supporter Scott Sommavilla wonders, “Who’s after gun owners? Who’s next?”
He said the fundraisers support gun safety education and responsible ownership.
Sommavilla was glad to read the Hilton’s statement, which read, “Our hotel is a place of public accommodation and we do not discriminate against any individual or group.”
“I think that’s great. They’re not closing the door, not saying, ‘you can’t come here.’ They’re open to anybody,” he said.
The hotel went on to say, “Due to this uniquely sensitive situation” the money it makes catering the event will be donated to charity.
The Rockland County protesters say they had a “respectful” meeting with the family that owns the hotel. They’re urging the owners to donate proceeds to a group that supports tougher gun laws.