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In response to on-going threats of violence in Washington, D.C., Airbnb announced Wednesday that it would cancel all reservations in the metro area for the week of the Inauguration of President Biden.
The short-term rental company will also block new reservations for that time period, it announced in a policy statement posted to its site, which noted that the decision came in light of "various local, state, and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C."
Bloomberg suggests that the pressure of local residents and activists also played a role in Airbnb's decision. "Across D.C. residents bristled on social media as they spotted people wearing 'Proud Boys' attire returning from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol to their rented rowhouses," noted the news site, which also reported that a local antifacist collective, Shutdown D.C., appealed to Airbnb.
In a letter, Shutdown D.C. argued, "Thousands of people traveled to D.C. to attempt a violent insurrection that left five people dead. Many of the individuals involved in this attack stayed at Airbnbs and made our communities their home base for violence. Neighbors have shared stories of vandalism and harassment in their communities on the day of the Trump rally.”
Airbnb’s statement also pointed to "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."
The company maintains it is dedicated to ensuring that "hate group members are not part of the Airbnb community," and it is taking action to follow-up on that commitment. "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."
Airbnb will shoulder the financial burden of the Inauguration week cancelations, refunding the would-be guests and reimbursing hosts the money they would have earned.