Donisha Prendergast, 33 years old the granddaughter of Bob Marley along with a couple of her friends including a Nigerian-born lady identified as Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, were accused of burglary as they moved out of a private apartment they had rented for the holiday.
The Trio were taken into police custody for investigation after a White neighbour called police to report that they had broken into her neighbour’s house.
The police detained the ladies as they were leaving the Airbnb rental in April. Airbnb is an American company which operates an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging.
They were soon found to be innocent and offered an apology by the police, The ladies however declared that they wanted more than an apology from the police after their innocence was confirmed.
“We want more than an apology, we want change,” Donisha Prendergast, a filmmaker, said on Thursday.
“The neighbour was wrong for racial profiling, and the police were wrong for responding with the protocol they used. Isn’t it innocent until proven guilty? That’s not how things proceeded.”
Prendergast, 33, and her two friends, Kelly Fyffe Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, are all Black.
Airbnb host, Marie Rodriguez, said her neighbour called police because she didn’t know the home had been rented.
“They’re latching on to this whole racism thing because they’re black,” Rodriguez said. “This is a diverse neighbourhood.”
Prendergast’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, said the white woman who made the 911 call specifically reported that three Black people appeared to be burglarizing her neighbour’s house because they were loading suitcases into a car and did not smile or wave at her when she allegedly waved at them
He also faulted the policemen for accusing Prendergast and her friends of fabricating their online Airbnb confirmation and having someone pose as their host on the phone.
Rialto Police Chief Mark Kling said his department was unfairly accused of racial bias over the 22-minute encounter. He said the group of friends was never cuffed or seated on the curb.
“I am confident that our officers that were involved in this situation handled the call for service with dignity, respect and the utmost professionalism,” Kling said.