CALIFORNIA, United States, Wednesday May 9, 2018 – The granddaughter of late iconic reggae singer-songwriter Bob Marley plans to take legal action against California police after she and two other filmmakers were accused of committing burglary, as they checked out from an Airbnb rental home.
Donisha Prendergast, a descendant of Marley, along with Kells Fyffe-Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan were prevented from leaving the neighbourhood by officers in several police cars, after a white woman in the Rialto, California neighbourhood where they were staying, called police on April 30.
An officer could be heard in one of the videos of the incident that went viral, saying that the caller had seen “three black people stealing stuff…like breaking into the house and taking stuff”.
The three served the Rialto Police Department with notice of a pending lawsuit on Monday.
“Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood. Smh,” the 33-year-old Prendergast had written in an Instagram post .
“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,” she added.
Prendergast also posted videos showing her trying to make contact with the owner of the Airbnb property to clear up the misunderstanding.
However, according to Fyffe-Marshall, it still took quite a while before they were allowed to go.
Recounting the ordeal, Fyffe-Marshall posted on Facebook that the friends had packed up their bags, locked up the house and left around 11 a.m., but seconds later, they were surrounded by seven police 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 three black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police,” she recalled.
“At first we joked about the misunderstanding and took photos and videos along the way. About 20 minutes into this misunderstanding it escalated almost instantly. Their Sergeant arrived… he explained they didn’t know what Airbnb was. He insisted that we were lying about it and said we had to prove it. We showed them the booking confirmations and phoned the landlord…Because they didn’t know what she looked like on the other end to confirm it was her…they detained us – because they were investigating a felony charge – for 45 minutes while they figured it out.
“The cops admit that the woman’s reason for calling the police was because we didn’t WAVE to her as she looked at us putting our luggage into our car from her lawn,” Fyffe-Marshall added as she expressed a range of emotions, including anger, frustration and sadness, at the incident.