In a troubling press release that reads like a news bulletin from the first five minutes of a zombie movie, Airbnb has announced a unilateral cancellation of all bookings for Washington, DC during inauguration week, acknowledging reports that “armed militias and known hate groups” are expected to make an appearance.
The company has promised that all guests will be refunded, and that it will “reimburse hosts, at Airbnb’s expense, the money they would have earned from these cancelled reservations.” It’s unclear whether the cancellations extend beyond the immediate DC metro area. (Airbnb was not immediately available for comment.)
Airbnb has long made efforts to keep potential domestic terrorists off its platform. It had the foresight in 2017 to block white supremacists from booking ahead of the deadly Unite the Right rally, it cancelled Proud Boys’ bookings before a post-election rally, and Airbnb has lately claimed to be banning verified Capitol rioters.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, as well as Maryland and Virginia governors, have asked everyone to stay home. An FBI official told the AP that the bureau has identified plans for “armed protests” in all 50 state capitols starting as early as Saturday.
Yesterday, the FBI announced that it’s opened 160 case files on Capitol rioters. 70 people have so far been charged, and it expect that number to rise to the hundreds. This does not seem to have deterred like-minded individuals from even more extreme plots; Representative Conor Lamb (D-PA) told NBC News that U.S. Capitol Police briefed House members on a possible threat that 4,000 armed insurrectionists might attempt to swarm the Capitol and prevent Democrats from entering. “They have published rules of engagement, meaning when you shoot and when you don’t,” he added.
Trump meanwhile has failed to take any responsibility for inciting the riots.