In the wake of the riot and storming of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, January 6th, Airbnb has made a hard and fast decision about offering sanctuary for individuals who would seek to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. With 7 days to go before Joe Biden and Kamala Harris assume the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, tensions are running high in Washington D.C.
As federal prosecutors file charges against rioters who took part in last Wednesday’s violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol, investigators continue to gather evidence in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained during the attack.
While most murder investigations focus on the person or persons who caused the fatal injury, former federal prosecutor Tim Heaphy said prosecutors could charge many rioters with felony murder, even if they were nowhere near Brian Sicknick.
The House voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time in a swift and bipartisan condemnation of the President’s role inciting last week’s riot at the US Capitol. The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach Trump exactly one week after rioters forced lawmakers to flee from the very chamber in which they cast ballots in the fourth presidential impeachment in US history — and the first time a President has been impeached twice. Ten Republicans, including the House’s No. 3 Republican, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, joined all Democrats to impeach Trump for “incitement of insurrection.
The Pentagon is deploying 20,000 National Guards with lethal weapons in Washington DC, a week ahead of the inauguration, to prevent any violence.
On January 13th, Airbnb released a statement in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration of the 46th President and of the United States.
“We are announcing today that Airbnb will cancel reservations in the Washington, D.C. metro area during the Inauguration week. Additionally, we will prevent any new reservations in the Washington, D.C. area from being booked during that time by blocking such reservations.”
According to the statement, guests whose reservations are canceled will be refunded in full. They will also reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense, funds that they would have earned from cancelled reservations. ‘HotelTonight’ reservations also will be cancelled.
The statement reads in part, “Airbnb’s work continues to be informed by inputs from our local host community as well as Washington, D.C. officials, Metro Police and Members of Congress throughout this week. In particular, Mayor Bowser, Governor Hogan and Governor Northam have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration. Additionally, we are aware of reports emerging yesterday afternoon regarding armed militias and known hate groups that are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.”
Airbnb states that they are continuing meaningful work to ensure hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community. “As we’ve learned through media or law enforcement sources the names of individuals confirmed to have been responsible for the violent criminal activity at the United States Capitol on January 6, we’ve investigated whether the named individuals have an account on Airbnb. Through this work, we have identified numerous individuals who are either associated with known hate groups or otherwise involved in the criminal activity at the Capitol Building, and they have been banned from Airbnb’s platform.”
Since 2016, Airbnb says they have removed 1.3M people from Airbnb for declining to treat others without judgement or bias. “Discrimination still happens, so we’re introducing some new ways to fight it. ‘Project Lighthouse’ is an initiative that was launched in the United States to uncover, measure, and overcome discrimination when booking or hosting on Airbnb. “This project will address discrimination that’s based on perception—and on Airbnb, people perceive race from things like first names and profile photos. Together, with civil rights organizations like ‘Color Of Change’ and ‘Upturn’, we’re beginning with research to understand when and where racial discrimination happens on our platform and the effectiveness of policies that fight it.”
Airbnb was launced in San Francisco, California in 2008 as an alternative to the hotel/motel industry.