Airbnb Makes Big Move Against Alt-Right Rally Attendees

Service cancels bookings for those coming to Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' event
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2017 9:45 AM CDT
Bedroom tidying taking place in the Las Vegas home of an Airbnb host in preparation for guests on Feb. 16, 2017.   (AP Photo/John Locher)
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(Newser) – An alt-right rally planned in a Charlottesville, Va., park Saturday is a follow-up to protests in May against the removal of a Confederate statue there. But those attending may have to rebook their lodgings: After Airbnb got wind of large groups making reservations through its system to ostensibly attend the "Unite the Right" rally in Emancipation Park, promoted by the likes of white nationalist Richard Spencer, the service canceled the accounts of those users, citing its "Airbnb Community Commitment," WVIR reports. All Airbnb users must sign off on this agreement; rally attendees would be violating the part noting they must "accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age." The service adds it's able to determine who's in violation of the commitment via "our background check processes or from input of our community."

Per BuzzFeed, people started catching on over the weekend that those deemed by Airbnb to be "antithetical" to its philosophy were seeing their accounts deactivated. Jason Kessler, one of the so-called organizers of the rally, posted an eight-minute video on Twitter Monday railing against Airbnb's actions, which he says was based on "political ideology," along with the tweet: "Free speech and civil rights under attack by #Charlottesville government & AirBnb." Charlottesville officials have been trying to get Kessler and his group to move the rally elsewhere, for "safety and logistical reasons," per WVIR, but Kessler says they're staying put in Emancipation Park because that's where the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee is. The Washington Post notes the park has long been mired in controversy due to its Confederate iconography. (Read more Airbnb stories.)

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