News & Politics

Speakers, Media, Hotel Guests Locked Out of CPAC

Twitter screenshot of a crowd kept out of CPAC by security.

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — On Thursday morning, conservatives who were scheduled to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were prevented from entering the building, along with attendees, press, hotel guests, and even Vice President Mike Pence’s press pool. When this group asked, around 9:30 a.m., when they would be allowed to enter the conference, security told them they would be kept out until 11:30 a.m.

“There must be some kind of credible threat,” Patrice Lee Onwuka, a senior policy analyst with the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), scheduled to lead a panel about winning women to the conservative cause, told PJ Media.

“STUCK OUTSIDE: Press pool tasked with covering [Vice President Mike Pence] at CPAC is stuck outside the building as a panel insides asks the crowd to turn around and wave a symbolic goodbye to the press at back of ballroom,” Kasie Hunt, NBC News’ Capitol Hill correspondent, tweeted at 9:29 a.m. She stood outside with about 150 attendees, who waited to enter the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.

Fifteen minutes later, Hunt and the press pool were allowed in. She announced that she would delete her tweet “because problem is resolved.”

The problem had not been resolved, however. Shortly after Hunt was allowed in, security again closed the doors. Every entrance to the hotel was shut down, with CPAC attendees going from door to door, being turned away.

Onwuka was among those kept out after Hunt and the press pool had been let in. Members of the media also could not enter, including PJ Media’s Tyler O’Neil. Exhibitors waited outside, unable to enter the building and set up their booths at CPAC. Even a CPAC staple, the man who dresses up as America’s first president, George Washington, was prevented from entering.

Attendees, reporters, hotel guests, and others ambled around.

The George Washington impersonator suggested that a threat of violence from Antifa was the likely explanation. He compared Antifa to the infamous British Colonel Banasre Tarleton, portrayed in the Mel Gibson film “The Patriot” (1995).

Eventually, this second group was also allowed in. When asked about the lockout, a security guard said CPAC attendees and hotel guests were excluded from the building in order to control the flow of guests entering the event, inside the hotel. Guests, media, speakers, and all CPAC attendees had to pass through metal detectors.

This explanation did not answer all concerns, however. If the exclusions were part of crowd flow, why tell attendees they couldn’t enter until 11:30 a.m., after Mike Pence was scheduled to speak? Another speaker also took the stage early in the morning, Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Was there a credible threat against LaPierre, in wake of the tragic shooting in Parkland, Fla. and the gun control activism that followed it? LaPierre’s speech went off without a hitch, but America may never know…