When the city voted to remove the Robert E. Lee statue from a public park in downtown Charlottesville, Va., few could have expected the backlash. Suddenly, the small, Virginia college town—home to the University of Virginia—has become the go-to spot for radical alt-right protestors.
First, there was a KKK rally in July where some 50 Klan members were met by over 1,000 counter-protestors, resulting in 23 arrests and the use of tear gas. Despite being overwhelmed with opposition, many on the alt-right saw this as a victory. The coverage was huge, and the response was impressive. They’d successfully struck a nerve.
And now, they’re going to do it again. On Saturday, controversial figure (and outright racist) Richard Spencer has helped organize a protest that some predict could bring thousands of out-of-town protestors and counter-protestors to Charlottesville for what is likely to be the largest white nationalist demonstration in the town’s history.
Although many businesses in Charlottesville are expected to close on Saturday for the safety of employees, there is one business that’s taking an active stand: Airbnb. According to Time, the popular home-sharing platform has begun canceling the accounts of members it believes are associated with the alt-right and appear to have booked stays in Charlottesville ahead of the rally.
According to a statement from Airbnb, they’ve created a “Community Commitment” that they hope will “make good on our mission of belonging, those who are members of the Airbnb community accept people regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age.” Furthermore, they’re intent on seeking out “those who would be pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment,” and removing their accounts from the site.
It remains to be seen what, if any, impact this has on the rally or the expected attendees.