Airbnb has done a lot to try to burnish its reputation. Mostly recently, it has partnered with the NAACP to help make its service more attractive to black customers.
But, it looks like white supremacy is still “trying it” with the app. According to the New York Times, Airbnb has canceled several accounts linked to an upcoming white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The event, called the Unite the Right Free Speech Rally, “seeks to affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests" according to its Facebook event page.
Part of what led Airbnb to the now-deleted accounts were plans being made by users to hold after-parties in rented residences.
Airbnb’s decision is in tune with its policy to “accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age.” The users were deleted for violating their agreements to that policy.
The event’s organizer, Jason Kessler, has accused Airbnb of attacking his “free speech and civil rights” via Twitter.
Free speech and civil rights under attack by #Charlottesville government & AirBnb #UniteTheRight https://t.co/mVP7VKgSQN— Jason Kessler (@TheMadDimension) August 7, 2017
Kessler further claimed that “hundreds of people have been put out of their accommodations” by Airbnb’s decision, a number that the company has declined to confirm.
“We’re going to find a way to get them here one way or the other,” Kessler added, also noting that he plans to go forward with a company boycott or class-action lawsuit.
Kessler also expressed frustration with Charlottesville officials for denying his group’s request to hold the rally at Charlottesville Emancipation Park, formerly known as Lee Park (where a Robert E. Lee statue stands).
City officials proposed that the rally be held at the larger McIntire Park instead, due to safety concerns.
The ACLU of Virginia and the Rutherford Institute requested that the decision be reversed via a letter citing First Amendment rights stating, “The city must act in accordance with the law, even if doing so is distasteful to members of the community who disagree with the views espoused by the ‘Unite the Right’ organizers.”
Leading white supremacist Richard Spencer echoed Kessler’s sentiments and fully supported the rally noting via YouTube, “The Unite the Right rally will take place exactly as planned and the city of Charlottesville and the city of Charlottesville police will just have to deal with it.”
Amongst the thousands expected to attend the rally are large groups of protesters.
When asked about the pushback the rally has received so far, Kessler said “I think that I’m surprised by the venom and rancor from some individuals. It’s a little over the top.”