National Mall Shut Down, Airbnbs Cancelled In D.C. Ahead Of Biden’s Inauguration
Airbnb is banning reservations in response to reports of “armed militias” attempting to disrupt President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The National Mall in Washington, D.C. will be shut down during President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, multiple outlets reported, as law enforcement and businesses brace for potential violence in the wake of last week’s deadly U.S. Capitol riot.
Airbnb is cancelling any upcoming reservations in Washington D.C. during the week of Biden’s inauguration on January 20 in wake of last week’s attack on the Capitol. In a statement on Wednesday, the home-sharing company announced it would cancel upcoming reservations and block any new reservations for the week of the inauguration “in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C.”
Airbnb said it’s following guidelines provided by D.C. officials, Metro Police, and Congress. The company also noted in a statement that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Govs. Larry Hogan (MD) and Northam (VA) “have been clear that visitors should not travel to the D.C. Metro area for the Inauguration.” The company also cited reports that “armed militias and known hate groups… are attempting to travel and disrupt the Inauguration.”
Airbnb said it will fully refund people whose reservations are cancelled and will reimburse the hosts for the money they would have made on the reservation.
The company also said it has investigated multiple Airbnb users who were part of the violent Capitol attack last week that left five people dead and dozens more injured. It has banned several of those individuals from its platform, the company said.
On Monday, several outlets reported that the FBI sent an internal memo about the threat of armed protests ahead of the inauguration at all 50 state capitols. According to the New York Times, the agency urged police chiefs nationwide on Wednesday to look out for violent extremists who “likely pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021.” The FBI also arrested a Chicago man earlier this week for threatening in a voicemail for a U.S. Representative that he would “surround” the White House on inauguration day and “kill any [expletive] Democrat that steps on the [expletive] lawn.”
On Wednesday, National Guard members were deployed to the Capitol Building to stand guard as the House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump for a second time. According to House security, it was the first time troops set-up camp in the Capitol since the Civil War.
Biden’s inauguration ceremony will take place on January 20 and will be streamed virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Washington Post first reported that the National Mall will be completely closed off to anyone other than security and media officials as an added security measure.