After experiencing what she believes was racial profiling, Donisha Prendergast, a 33-year-old filmmaker and the granddaughter of Bob Marley, is planning to pursue legal action.
Prendergast didn’t notice anything amiss as she and the small group of friends she was traveling with prepared to leave their Airbnb rental in Rialto, California on April 30. The trio began packing their luggage into their car and preparing to leave, but to the neighbor watching on, the three black women looked like thieves attempting a getaway with stolen property. That’s the gist of what the unidentified neighbor told police when she called them to report a robbery, anyway, ABC 15 reports.
The small group was soon surrounded by police and told a helicopter was tracking their movements, according to ABC 15. An officer at the scene told the group that a neighbor called and reported “three black people stealing stuff,” the New York Daily News reports. The women had to explain that they’d booked the residence via Airbnb. As shown in the screenshots above, they even had to call the homeowner and have her speak to police to verify their story. Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, one of the women questioned, reports that the ordeal took 45 minutes to resolve, while police claimed in a statement that the encounter was over in 22 minutes, ABC reports.
Prendergast, Fyffe-Marshall, and a third friend, Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, are now planning to take legal action against the police department, the New York Daily News reports. The group served the Rialto Police Department with notice of a pending lawsuit on Monday. The group is being represented by Miami-based lawyer Jasmine Rand, who has yet to comment publicly on the impending legal battle.
Police said in a news release that the women were released without incident, CNN reports.
“At no time during the encounter did officers use any form of restraints with the involved people and actually allowed them to exit their vehicle and assist officers in locating the owner of the unlicensed Airbnb,” their statement read, in part, according to CNN. In regards to the pending lawsuit, the department told CNN that they are “limited in response.”
In a statement to CNN, Airbnb called the incident an “unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society.” The company has also reached out to the women to express their “sympathy and full support.”
“Many have suffered and died in moments like these,” reads one of her captions, in part. “That’s a crazy reality check. Give Thanks for life, and the ability to stand our ground.”
(Photo: Screenshot via Instagram)