Police in Rialto, California have released bodycam footage of an incident in which Bob Marley's granddaughter was detained when a white neighbor reported her for suspected burglary. Donisha Prendergast was merely staying at an Airbnb, on her vacation, with friends, while Black.
The Rialto Police Department was served Monday with a notification of pending legal action on behalf of Prendergast and two others, Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan and Kelly Fyffe-Marshall.
From USA Today:
In a Facebook post, Fyffe-Marshall, a filmmaker, detailed the group's experience saying they were surrounded by seven police cars and a helicopter as officers demanded they put their hands in the air. While the group was joking at the misunderstanding at first, she said things escalated about 20 minutes into the encounter.
The officers said they didn't know what Airbnb was, asked for proof of the rental and detained the women for 45 minutes, Fyffe-Marshall continued.
She said the reason the neighbor called the police was because the group didn't wave to her.
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
Prendergast and two friends were detained by police as they left the Airbnb rental where they'd been staying, while attending the Kaya fest in San Bernardino County. The rental was in a mostly white area.
On Thursday, the artists held a press conference in Harlem, and demanded a criminal investigation into the white neighbor who called the cops on them. The police refused to believe the Airbnb host even when they phoned and spoke to police. There's video of one of the Rialto cops telling them someone reported "there's three black people stealing stuff."
On her Instagram video, Prendergast said she "got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood" and felt "sad and irritated."
"There was an individual that placed this racist call with false allegations to the Rialto Police Department on April 30th. And we want her held accountable," said attorney Jasmine Rand, who along with Benjamin Crump, is representing the three women.
Activist and artist Donisha Prendergast — the eldest granddaughter of reggae legend Bob Marley — filmmaker Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Afrofuturist artist Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan attended the Kaya Festival in nearby San Bernardino and stayed at an Airbnb for two nights, along with a white photographer friend.
As the four left on April 30, a neighbor called the police and reported a suspected robbery, after they didn't wave hello at her as they placed their suitcases in their car. The identity of the neighbor is not public.
Police cars and a helicopter responded, Rand said. She said police told her clients a neighbor had reported three black people acting suspiciously.
Airbnb's senior advisor Laura W. Murphy and director of national partnerships Janaye Ingram sent a letter [PDF] to the Rialto Mayor and Interim Chief of Police.
"We are deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department's response was dictated by the guests' race," the letter said. "As African-American women who have seen the inequitable treatment of people of color, we know that these kinds of incidents are often rooted in implicit and explicit bias. They are hurtful, discriminatory, traumatic and must end."
[More: San Jose Mercury News]