The Rialto Police Department in California revealed more information Monday about officers’ recent encounter with three Black women were racially profiled when they checked out of an Airbnb.
A trio of African-American friends, including Donisha Prendergast who is the granddaughter of Bob Marley, had finished their vacation at a home in Rialto on April 30. When they locked up the house and put their luggage in their car, a 911 caller told police that the women were burglarizing the home. The friends then found themselves face-to-face with several police officers during a 22-minute encounter that has received national attention. The friends—Prendergast, Kells Fyffee Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan—posted a social media video of portions of what happened as a result of the police call that falsely labeled them as criminals.
Prendergast and her two friends also served a notice of pending legal action to the Rialto Police Department Monday (May 7), police said in a release.
Here’s what else we know about the encounter:
Police Have Released Body Camera Footage And Statements
The Rialto Police Department held a press conference Monday about the incident, revealing footage that showed a different version of events. The footage showed a more light-hearted interaction between the three women and officers. The move to quickly release the police video is being deemed as an action to refute racial discrimination on the part of the involved officers and show that they didn’t act with excessive force. The video release raises questions as to why body camera videos are not released faster in other nationally known racial discrimination incidents, brutality encounters or fatal police shootings.
Prendergast Is An Artist
The 33-year-old is a filmmaker and community activist with a passion for reggae music, according to her Instagram. The incident was one that truly made the women feel the horror of racism and profiling, and they believe that the police were called because they were Black in a White neighborhood, Prendergast said on Instagram.
Be Love. So much things to say right now…. Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood. Smh. I’m sad and irritated to see that fear is still the first place police officers go in their pursuit to serve and protect, to the point that protocol supersedes their ability to have discernment. Many have suffered and died in moments like these. That’s a crazy reality check. Give Thanks for life, and the ability to stand our ground. We are stronger together. Use your voice collectively. #unafraid #mightcannotdefeatright #wewillrizetogether #buildcomeunity #strongertogether #useyourvoice #eachoneteach We have a right to be right. @iamdonisha @directedbykells @ahutchphoto @komiolaf
Airbnb Has A Policy On Handling Discrimination Disputes Involving Hosts And Guests
Marie Rodriguez, the woman who owned the Airbnb home, defended her neighbor, the older white woman who called 911 on the friends, The Associated Press reported. Rodriguez, who was renting out her home for the first time, also defended the Rialto officers. However, Rodriguez’ home was an unlicensed Airbnb, according to the Rialto police release.
Airbnb has an anti-discrimination policy that it adopted after several racist incidents that were tied to the company. Airbnb, who partnered with the NAACP to promote the platform’s services in communities of color, now has a policy that allows it to take various steps in discrimination cases, including suspending the host from its platform.