Airbnb said it is prepared to ban users who participate in the white supremacist Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington, D.C., this weekend, for violating its community policies.
Last year the company canceled accounts and bookings associated with the original rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. One person, Heather Heyer, was killed there when a driver rammed his vehicle into a group of counterprotesters.
Airbnb cites its community commitment and nondiscrimination policy as grounds for shuttering those accounts. Company spokesman Nick Papas told HuffPost in a statement that it would identify individuals “pursuing behavior on the Airbnb platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment.”
“We seek to take appropriate action, which may include removing them from the platform,” he said. “We acted in advance of last year’s horrific event in Charlottesville and if we become aware of similar information we won’t hesitate to do so again.”
Airbnb didn’t disclose how many bookings or accounts were canceled last year, but Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler told The New York Times that “hundreds of people have been put out of their accommodations.” He tweeted that the company and the Charlottesville government were attacking “free speech and civil rights.”
Washington is bracing itself for the white supremacist rally on Sunday. About 400 supporters of last year’s rally and about 1,500 counterprotesters are expected, according to The Washington Post. D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the goal is to keep the groups separate.
Charlottesville declared a state of emergency this week to unlock funds to provide for a heavy police presence to deter any violence over the weekend.