A confrontation over check-out time turned violent after an Airbnb host allegedly pushed a woman down a flight of stairs in Amsterdam.
Local reports said the suspect was arrested and detained by police. Prosecutors are considering charging the property owner with attempted murder, according to a Reuters report.
Sibahle Nkumbi was traveling with two other women and South African artist Zanele Muholi, who shared video of the incident on social media. (Reports differ on the spelling of Nkumbi's first name, which have been printed elsewhere as “Steve” and “Siba.”)
In the 34-second video, Nkumbi appears to tell the host “don’t be emotional” and asks why he is throwing her things out of the apartment. The shaky video shows the host, who is wearing a black T-shirt, repeatedly say “out” as he pushes Nkumbi against a wall. He then says “out now” more emphatically, while pushing Nkumbi toward the stairs. The video follows Nkumbi as she plunges headfirst down the narrow staircase. The host runs down the stairs, as Nkumbi lies motionless on the floor, before the video stops.
Nkumbi said the host was “verbally abusive” and told them that “this is not Africa,” in a video interview with Kevin P. Roberson. Nkumbi said she passed out and woke up in a hospital with a concussion and bruises all over her body and face. The Washington Post was unable to reach Nkumbi for comment.
David King, Airbnb's director of diversity, released the following statement:
Appalling and unconscionable behavior against members of our community runs counter to everything Airbnb stands for. Our CEO Brian Chesky and I are reaching out to the affected guests. We will take the strongest actions we can against such abhorrent conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement with their investigation and potential prosecution. Nobody should ever be treated like this and it will not be tolerated.
Airbnb reported 1.4 million guest arrivals in the Netherlands last year.
Critics have taken issue with Airbnb’s racial discrimination policy. In 2015, researchers at the Harvard Business School found “widespread discrimination” against black guests. The Post’s Emily Badger wrote about the study, which centered on researchers sending out 6,400 messages to hosts from invented accounts under “distinctively” white and black names. The study found that queries from guests with black-sounding names were less likely to be accepted than those from guests with white-sounding names.
Last September, after a three-month review that included former U.S. attorney general Eric Holder, Airbnb said it planned to improve its nondiscrimination policy, and announced several changes that they said would hold hosts accountable.
Some guests have reported requesting a booking and being informed by the host that a listing that was advertised as vacant was not available. In some cases, it appears that these listings were then made available for the same trip to guests of a different race. Going forward, Airbnb will develop a feature to help prevent this from happening. If a host rejects a guest by stating that their space is not available, Airbnb will automatically block the calendar for subsequent reservation requests for that same trip.
However, the company opted not to remove user photos that enable hosts to identify the race of prospective guests. The company said it would instead experiment with minimizing the visibility of photos and instead emphasize other types of user reputation information.