Bob Marley’s granddaughter is suing police after Airbnb racial profiling

Apparently not smiling is now a crime

Bob Marley’s granddaughter is suing Californian police for a now viral incident that took place outside an Airbnb.

According to a CBS News report, neighbours called the police to report a burglary despite the fact Donisha Prendergast and friends were actually renting the property. The group were staying at the Airbnb because they were attending a local festival. The trio were packing their luggage at the time of the call, however the caller stated she saw “three black people stealing stuff”.

One of the other renters, Kells Fyffe-Marshall, wrote about the bizarre incident on Facebook describing how her and her friends were "surrounded" by seven police cars before being told to put their hands up in the air. She said they were told a police helicopter was tracking them and alleged that they were even accused of lying.

The owner of the property, who by the way deserves the worst review of all time, said: “If the kids had simply smiled at (my neighbour) and waved back and acknowledged her and said, ‘We’re just Airbnb guests checking out,’ none of this would have ever happened,” she said. “But instead, they were rude, unkind, not polite.”

The Rialto Police Department has released bodycam footage in an attempt to silence criticism that this was a case of racial profiling. Captain William Wilson of the Rialto Police Department said: “Nobody had their hands up in the air. There was no guns pointed. Nobody was put on the curb.”

“We didn't detain anybody, we didn't put anyone in handcuffs, we didn't point any weapons at anybody. We actually allowed them pretty free movement about the scene,” added Lt. Dean Hardin. He claims it was standard for a helicopter to monitor the scene of a residential burglary and described the 22-minute encounter as a “pretty mild response to a situation.”

Except it’s definitely not. This is just one recent case of a toxic and almost violent paranoia that has seen white Americans call the police on black people for going about their daily lives. And the inference that because no one was detained or threatened with a gun the situation is mild just shows how standard it is to criminalise innocent black people.

Two black men were arrested in April when a store employee accused them of trespassing. Witnesses said the two were refused access to the bathroom because they hadn’t bought anything. Multiple people said another customer had been able to go to the toilet, without making a purchase and another witness said she has been there for hours without buying anything. None of them were arrested, yet the black men were.

Just yesterday, a black Yale University graduate student was interrogated by campus police officers when a white student found her sleeping in a common room of their dorm and called police. In another case, an Obama-era White House staffer recorded a video of him being arrested for a “burglary in progress” while he was simply moving into his new apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Prendergast and her friends have now served Rialto Police Department with notice of a pending lawsuit.