If you want to buy into the Corrections Corporation of America — at least at the “analyst meeting” the company held yesterday in New York — you’ll have to pay more than you might have bargained for. According to activist Felton Davis, “Any investors attending that meeting had to pass through a line of police officers at the entrance to the hotel, and a group of people chanting ‘Build schools, not prisons.’”
Several local groups participated in a campaign called “Thirty Years of Private Prisons: Nothing to Celebrate,” culminating in a demonstration in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. Yesterday’s impromptu action at the Hyatt on 42nd Street was a continuation and extension of that effort, conducted at very short notice, and the young people did a fine job, disrupting the investors conference inside the hotel, and briefly blocking the street outside at 9 a.m. rush hour.
Participants reported rough handling by security. “One of the Hyatt security staff grabbed me and pushed me repeatedly, at one point shoving my violently in the face and snapping my neck back,” said Emily Tucker, a staff attorney with the Center for Popular Democracy. “I pointed this man out to a group of policemen. He was standing a few feet away laughing with one of the officers, and the cops I was talking to wouldn’t even look in the direction I was pointing.”
“Hyatt should think twice about hosting prison profiteers in their hotels if they want to avoid disturbances like this in the future,” she said.