Airbnb has closed the accounts of guests who booked stays in
Virginia to attend a white-supremacist rally.
Members of the Daily Stormer website had organized stays and
events related to the Unite the Right rally, scheduled to take place in
Charlottesville on Aug. 12. The Daily Stormer describes itself as "The
World's Most Genocidal Republican Website."
Airbnb cited a policy it began enforcing last year to
prevent both hosts and guests from practicing any sort of discrimination as the
reason for its action. Airbnb didn't disclose how many accounts it closed.
"In 2016 we established the Airbnb Community Commitment
reflecting our belief that to make good on our mission of belonging, those who
are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race,
religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual
orientation, or age," Airbnb said in a statement.
"We asked all members of Airbnb to affirmatively sign
on to this commitment. When through our background check processes or from
input of our community we identify and determine that there are those who would
be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb
Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action including, as in this
case, removing them from the platform."
The decision, first reported by Charlottesville's NBC
affiliate, prompted Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler to threaten to sue
Kessler, in an interview with the Washington Post, called
Airbnb's decision "grounds for a lawsuit" and characterized it as "racial
targeting of white people for their ethnic advocacy."
Kessler has also tapped the Virginia ACLU and Virginia-based
Rutherford Institute to represent him against the city of Charlottesville in an
attempt to prevent the city from moving the rally to McIntire Park from
Emancipation (formerly Robert E. Lee) Park, according to Charlottesville's
As of yesterday, 675 people indicated on Unite the Right's
Facebook page that they would attend the rally, which is expected to be well
into the thousands of attendees, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Last year, a Harvard Business School study found prospective
Airbnb guests with "distinctly African-American names" were about 16%
less likely to have their reservation requests granted by Airbnb hosts than
guests with "distinctly white names." This spurred black
entrepreneurs to launch peer-to-peer accommodations sites Noirbnb.com and
Amid discrimination allegations against blacks, Airbnb last
September updated its nondiscrimination policy, which prohibits hosts from
declining a stay request based on race, ethnicity, origin, gender, sexual
orientation or disability. By last November, Airbnb mandated that its hosts
abide by the Airbnb Community Commitment.