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Lyft Is Partnering With An Anti-Discrimination Group To Train Drivers On Handling White Supremacists

The ride-sharing app becomes the latest tech company to push back against white supremacist and alt-right rallies planned across the country.

Posted on August 19, 2017, at 9:56 p.m. ET

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The ride-sharing app Lyft announced Saturday that it is partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center, becoming the latest tech company to respond to a series of white supremacy and alt-right rallies taking place across the country.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit that monitors hate groups, will be providing Lyft drivers with training and help the company "promote inclusivity within our team as well as externally in the communities we serve," according to communications Lyft executives sent to drivers and employees.

On Saturday, one week after liberal demonstrator Heather Heyer was killed during white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and as other right-wing rallies took place in Boston and Dallas, Lyft sent a reminder to drivers to watch for safety alerts and encouraging them to report any incidents of discrimination.

"Lyft represents all people, including the 66% of drivers who identify as a minority - and every ride is an opportunity to bring people of different backgrounds together," the note, obtained by BuzzFeed News, said. "With white supremacists planning rallies nationwide, we want to share an update on resources to keep drivers safe."

Lyft sent a note to some drivers about white supremacists rallies and safety, says it's partnering with SPLC

The rallies, organized by white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazi groups in cities across the country, have already prompted responses from several other tech companies. Lyft's main competitor, Uber, permanently banned white supremacist James Allsup from its ride-hailing platform last week after he allegedly made racist remarks to a black driver in Washington, DC.

Beyond the ride-sharing apps, GoDaddy refused to host a domain for a white supremacist group, prompting the group to re-register with Google before getting banned by that company as well.

And before the rally took place in Charlottesville last week, Airbnb also decided to ban known white supremacists from its site - including neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.

There have been no no known incidents of Lyft banning people from their app following racist incidents at white supremacist rallies, but the company's anti-discrimination policy does state users can be removed from the platform for such actions.

In an email to Lyft employees obtained by BuzzFeed News, the company's co-founder John Zimmer announced that the Southern Poverty Law Center would be hosting a chat with employees about "belonging, tolerance and allyship."

The non-profit advocacy group will also become Lyft's latest partner in its "Round Up & Donate" feature, which allows users to round up their fare and forward the additional proceeds to charities and other philanthropic organizations.

Zimmer's email also stated that Lyft will be training employees on how to deal with "unconscious bias," as well as how to support underrepresented communities and build inclusive workplaces.

"For the driver and passenger community, we will monitor protests, provide safety alerts and enforce our Anti-Discrimination Policy," the email stated.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.