3 Black Airbnb guests swarmed after white woman calls police when seeing them check out
On April 30th, 2018, a white woman reported a residential burglary to the police after she saw Donisha Prendergast, the filmmaker granddaughter of musician Bob Marley, and her artist friends Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan check out of their Airbnb rental and load their suitcases into their vehicle an artist. All three artists are Black.
Within minutes, the Rialto Police sent 6 police officers and a helicopter to surround the house’s perimeter. However, both parties detail different accounts of the incident after the police’s arrival on West Loma Vista Drive.
Prendergast writes on Instagram she and her friends “got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighborhood. 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.”
Olafimihan posted that “over 700 people that look just like me did not walk away alive from a situation like this last year.”
Fyffe-Marshall also posted, “They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbor across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.”
Rialto police stated they were given a lawsuit notice on behalf of the 3 Black guests. Jasmine Rand, one of the attorneys representing the guests, indicated that legal action is to be anticipated.
The department responded, stating its officers acted “respectfully, honestly and professionally” throughout the entire encounter. “The videos speak for themselves,” Rialto’s interim police chief, Mark Kling, said. “Our officers handled the situation with professionalism, dignity, and respect.”
He continued, “The reporting party did not recognize the vehicle or the neighbors — and also the people as being neighbors — or the homeowner and believed that she was witnessing an in-progress burglary.”
Hardin, the Rialto police lieutenant, confirmed that officers did ask the guests to “show their hand” in case they carried weapons. He also states that while one of the officers was skeptical of the guests’ stories, he was “quickly educated by the officers” since he did not know what Airbnb was. While officers confirmed the residence was an unlicensed Airbnb rental, Airbnb has shared a statement.
Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said to The Post, “The fact that this neighbor was not a member of the Airbnb community doesn’t change the fact that what happened to our Guests is unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society.”