NASHVILLE, TN (NBC News) – A Nashville hotel has cancelled a conference by an organization cited in Charleston massacre gunman Dylann Roof’s manifesto, leaving the group scrambling to find a new venue.
“It is an absolutely shocking commentary on the state of freedom of speech in this country,” complained Jared Taylor, a spokesman for the Council of Conservative Citizens.
“Even at the height of the McCarthy era, the Communist Party could rent a hotel and hold a meeting,” he added.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which says Taylor’s organization is a white supremacist hate group, revealed earlier this week that it was holding its annual meeting at the Guesthouse Inn.
The Guesthouse Inn then canceled the reservation, telling NBC affiliate WSMV that the Council of Conservative Citizens is not welcome at its property.
It was to be the first meeting since nine people were killed during the June 17 massacre at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina. A manifesto believed to have been penned by the gunman said he planned to start a race war and that he was influenced by the council’s website.
The group, which says it should not be blamed for Roof’s actions, has met the Guesthouse Inn at least 10 times over the last five years, Taylor said.
“Once they get pressure from people who don’t believe in free speech and freedom of assembly, they fold,” Taylor said.
He added that some members flying in for the conference had non-refundable airline tickets.
“We’re going to do our best to see what we can pull off,” Taylor said. “We might not be advertising the fact if we get another venue.”