Airbnb, Uber & Lyft May Refuse White Supremacists at Unite The Right Rally

Aug 10, 2018

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A year after a white-nationalist rally turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia, the same group is holding a similar rally in Washington, DC, on Sunday.

Ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft and homesharing company Airbnb have all stated that they may refuse service to people they suspect are attending the Unite The Right rally. Rally organizer Jason Kessler chose Washington, DC, as the rally location after he was denied a permit to hold a repeat event in Charlottesville.

Similar to how Uber handled last year’s rally, Uber pointed TPG to the company’s community guidelines that state drivers and riders “are expected to exercise good judgment and behave decently towards other people in the car when riding with Uber — just as you would in any public place.” That includes riders “use of inappropriate and abusive language or gestures” and “breaking the local law while using Uber.”

The Unite the Right 2 website “strongly recommends” rally attendees to take “an Uber or a taxi there [the rally].”

Uber says that if a user violates its community guidelines, it may remove their access to the app. The company has banned two notable white supremacists, James Allsup and Tim Gionet, after making racists statements.

In a blog post, the company provided tips for its drivers serving the DC area this weekend. Under a section saying “A community built on respect” the post reads: “People matter most to the Uber experience. And, it’s a 2-way street between riders and drivers. We created our Community Guidelines so that everyone in the vehicle has a shared standard for respect, accountability, and common courtesy.”

“Regardless of event, drivers are advised to follow all local laws but have the right to refuse service to riders who are disrespectful or who make them feel unsafe,” Uber told TPG.

“We’ve given drivers a heads up about road closures in the area this weekend,” Lyft spokeswoman Darcy Yee told TPG. “And [we] emphasized that their safety comes first. If they ever feel uncomfortable or disrespected by a passenger, they can cancel that ride.”

Airbnb is also cracking down on people it deems white supremacists. Last year the company banned users from its services who it suspected of attending the first Unite The Right march.

“We seek to take appropriate action, which may include removing them from the platform,” Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas told The Washingtonian. “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.”

However, rally organizers are attempting to keep their lodging plans secret.

“Don’t let strangers know where you’re staying,” the Unite the Right 2 website reads. “If you’re going to be in town on Saturday, August 11th please stay with trusted friends and don’t talk to strangers about your participation.”

TPG reached out to Airbnb for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.

Featured image by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images.

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