Chicago Police to Airbnb Host: No Whites in Black Neighborhoods, Please

Follow-up stories:

Chicago police officers confronted a black Airbnb host in the city's Englewood neighborhood about renting to white tourists -- allegedly over guest safety -- in an episode the host filmed and posted to YouTube.

"They have to be safeguarded. Something nasty could happen here. Most of all, it embarrasses the City of Chicago," an officer says on the video [ see our story on the high crime rate in Englewood ].

At the end, a male police officer asks the host for ID and says he is citing her for running a business without an operating license.

UPDATE [ 11:26am PT 8/24/11 ] Annie has confirmed that she received a citation for not having a business license and is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 22 [ see story ].

In language that appears aimed at Airbnb, Chicago began requiring licenses for vacation rentals on Jan. 1, 2011, but from our quick reading it looks like Airbnb rentals in owner-occupied residences would not be subject to the ordinance [ see our follow-up story on business licenses ].

The Airbnb host is likely Annie W., who lists her "private room" starting at $29 a night and includes perks like free museum passes and restaurant gift certificates.

The video appears to be legitimate. We have contacted the Chicago Police, who are looking at the video, as well as Airbnb and the owner.


Transcript [ unproofed ].

0:23: WOMAN: You will have a really hard time with that. And I know my legalities too.

0:38 COPS: This is a very dangerous neighborhood.

0:41 WOMAN: Well, you know what, when I was living in Hyde Park, my boss got robbed three times in her own apartment. My friends at gunpoint in the safe area at the beach and it was four of them. Three of my other friends got pulled when they were going down 113th street and they were driving and there was a person that was shooting and put them at gun point and then said get out of the car.

1:10 WOMAN: The people didn't even have a car but when they pulled off, the police pulled them over because they were trying to get away from the people on the street.

1:13 WOMAN: So your version of dangerous area versus what you consider a safe area is not the same.

1:27 COPS:  "On this whole thing it's cooperation and communication that makes everything go smoothly"

1:38 WOMAN: Right, and I'm telling you, I've had 4 other cops come here and they talk to me

1:56 You’re running a business in which is gonna draw international people to this location.

WOMAN: And that's what i thought the community college was going to do

COPS: They have to be safeguarded. Something nasty could happen here. Most of all, it embarrasses the City of Chicago. Then the tables get turned and say wait a minute, you're supposed to regulate these communities so that this doesn't happen, that doesn't happen...breach of contract, all that kind of stuff. you have to get insured for this and everything. this is what's gotta be done. you have to cooperate.

2:23 WOMAN: I understand that. But why did you put the college here at the Kennedy-King and pay $10M for it and then you drawing new people into the neighborhood. And you're hoping for the best.

COPS: Maam --

2:31 WOMAN: I really don't want to talk to her.

COPS: But you have to talk to her.


COPS: Because she's investigating this.

WOMAN: Well let me just finish our conversation.

COPS: No, I'm going to put ours on hold.

2:46: COPS: Is this your current address or the address on your ID?

2:52: WOMAN: This is my sister's place.

2:53: COPS: So the address on your ID is that your home address?

WOMAN: That's my other address.

COPS: What's your other address?

3:01 WOMAN: Where I stay. So you could put P.O. Box 3. No that's my address. [redacted ] Is that the one you talking about?

3:26 so I'm saying when you saying that you're going to bring the college over here for 10M dollars and then you're going to say this neighborhood or this area is safe for people who are coming to this community to learn at this college 8 blocks away. and you're going to say this is a safe area for them or you're just saying it's only safe for black folks.

3:52 I understand development because my family works in development. if you're putting 10M into any area, you're calling that an up and coming development and then you build all these new frontiers around here, you got a new library you got a new police thing right on down the street, then you got all these new buildings what are you trying to tell the communities, is this a safe area? Or is it still a really dangerous area? Because if you are telling us it is safe in one aspect that we can bring new business and then yet when they come here or anybody, whether Spanish, black or white, and it's not safe for them to walk down the streets, because i am telling you every every person who has come to my house that is white has been featured by the police in the broad daylight. And there was nothing wrong, And then when they came here they say 'oh everybody is so nice, everybody has directed them who to come to' that's good. So you saying you want to turn the community, yet you don't want to turn the community because you still scaring the white folks.

5:14 COPS: We got to conduct business, that's all i am saying. Attention got draw because of how things were...

5:17 WOMAN: Attention? Attention got drawn when you brought the college here. When you pulled that ten dollar....

5:36 COPS: I am done talking, you are not being reasonable, you are trying to overly, protect what you're trying to do instead of listen.

5:43 WOMAN: I just never realized that three, a couple of 10$ residences, trump a $10M building that's down the street.

5:52 COPS: That doesn't have anything to do with it.

WOMAN: That doesn't have anything to do with it?

5:55 COPS: [ muffled ]

6:00 WOMAN: Right. Ok, you do that, but you know I am right., they are not getting a refund. that's ok because if you do that I have all of downtown who do it. A thousand people who are doing it out of their homes, go ahead, go on airbnb.

6:57: WOMAN: The only thing those three girls..three guys ...people were doing was trying to get their information as to how to get home and you make it more than what it is.

[voice in background]: They got their information and they came in there and said fuck that.

WOMAN: No, that's you saying that. Thank you for saying it on camera though.

[voice in background]: I'm not telling them what they can do, they can do whatever they want and they don't want to stay here.

7:24: WOMAN: Do you know how may people I had here for the whole month? Over 40. And I've got reviews online to prove that they were very happy with the neighbors, the people in the area, the people of the color, and you make it seem so racist.

[something in the background]

Business license? Me and 1,000 people don't have a business license. Oh, welcome to Annie's Airbnb, hee hee!

[something in the background]

WOMAN: Yes, it's ready, come on in. [more laughing]

[voice in the background] Look at how she did that.

WOMAN: Sorry about the drama, but they do this with every...

female voice [quiet]: how are you doing, good to meet you

WOMAN: Thank you. you too. [alughing]

[break in video]

8:20: ANNIE: Look, I don't have nothing against you all.

[background voices] "Nothing against you either, but I don't like you..."

8:28 WOMAN: I'm just saying that I'm trying to make my living like everybody else. And they only target people [interruption]. It doesn't matter who I bring over here. Maybe it might bring more protection for you -- if that's the case.

[male voice]: .".. I don't mean no protection."

8: 41 WOMAN: Well, maybe i do and I just feel better about it. But it's just I feel that everytime the whites come here...

[something garbled in the background]

WOMAN: Well, you're not the police.

8:54 MALE VOICE, COULD BE OFFICER: In Chicago, when you're going to make a profit on something, you have to have a license.

9:00 WOMAN: Well that's the thing, I understand that.

9:01 MALE: You're in the Internet and all that and I've heard of this kind of thing going on where you swap. In other words, then when you go traveling --

WOMAN: I do barter too. I do with other companies.

9:16: MALE: As far as you accepting cash, well, this officer is going to talk to you.

WOMAN: That officer? I prefer if you talk to me.

MALE: Well, you have to talk to him, he's investigating.

9:26: MALE OFFICER: Maam, do you have an ID on you? I'm going to write you a citation for not having a license to operate a business. You have to have a license in the city of Chicago to operate a business.

9:33: WOMAN: I need an operating license to run an Airbnb? A license -- to rent out rooms out of my house and not provide any food? Is that what you're saying?

9:44: MALE OFFICER: Give me your ID --

WOMAN: Can you say yes or no?

MALE OFFICER: Give me your ID and you can go to court...

9:48: MALE: Maam, you need to.. let's see your ID and handle this and we'll be out of your way.

9:52: WOMAN: Okay, I got no problem with that.

[video ends]