A video posted on Facebook last Tuesday that showed three black women leaving a California Airbnb rental with their luggage and being detained because a white neighbor called the cops went viral, and now a lawsuit is on the horizon.
Notably, one of the women involved in the incident, 33-year-old Donisha Prendergast, is Bob Marley‘s granddaughter. Prendergast, Kells Fyffee-Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan were wrongly suspected of thieving from the residence and are filing a lawsuit against the Rialto Police Department.
In case you missed it, filmmaker Fyffe-Marshall posted video of the April 30 incident on Facebook and wrote the following about the incident:
During our time in Cali we have been staying at an Airbnb. The 30th was our second morning and at about 11am we checked out. The four of us packed our bags, locked up the house and left. As you can see 3 of us were Black. About 10 seconds later we were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air. They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbour across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police.
Prendergast also posted about this on Instagram.
“Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood. Smh,” she wrote. “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.”
One police officer on scene informed the women that they were reported for being “three black people stealing stuff” and “like breaking into the house and taking things.”
The women explained that they were “taking our suitcases out of the house we were staying in.”
Fyffe-Marshall said that she thought it was a joke at first, but 45 minutes of being detained and a felony investigation later and no one was laughing.
One of the women concluded that this was happening because “there’s three black people in the neighborhood” and an officer answered, “It’s possible, but like I said, you never know.”
According to the New York Daily News, the women served the Rialto Police Department with a notice of their pending lawsuit. Prendergast is being represented by Jasmine Rand of Rand Law, L.L.C. in Miami, Florida.
Law&Crime has reached out to Rand for comment.
[Image via Facebook screengrab]
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