The viral video of the Airbnb incident involving Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of Bob Marley, and an accompanying party of three other friends, pulled over by Rialto (CA) police officers at the behest of a “concerned neighbor”. It is but the latest in a seemingly infinite line of recorded incidents showing the virtual illegality of black and brown skin in America.
When questioned, the woman who called the police reportedly said she waved at Prendergast, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, one of her party, and two other companions as they departed. She said she thought it was suspicious when they didn’t wave back and called 9-1-1.
What was so suspicious about it?
Police who detained reggae legend Bob Marley’s granddaughter and her friends in Southern California say that race was not a factor. Bodycam footage of the incident shows the moment Donisha Prendergast and her friends were surrounded by police after a neighbor reported them as they left their Airbnb rental with their luggage.
It is certain that the concerned neighbor in question has seen people disembarking from the establishment before. And it is also certain that she hasn’t called the police on every stranger who refused to acknowledge her salutation. Black and brown skin are not circumstantial in this scenario, believe that.
Attorney Benjamin Crump said the following in a statement to TheGrio;
The police can not detain Black people and presume that they are guilty just because of the color of their skin. Being black is not a crime. This isnt South Africa apartheid times where they need paperwork or a permit proving they have a right to be where they are. This is apparently what happened when you view that video, said Crump.
When you listen to that 911 call, it has striking similarities to that call six years ago that Trayvons murderers call made calling Trayvon suspicious, he continued. Its also worth noting that there were four people unloading their luggage that daythree Black and one white. Interesting that the 911 caller only said three Black people seemed suspicious. So, the white person was extended the white privilege exception.
According to reports, there was even a helicopter summoned, but it departed once officers on the scene accessed the situation. Prendergast, Fyffee-Marshall, and attorney Jasmine Rand spoke exclusively to theGrio about the harrowing affair.
theGrio: What were your first thoughts when you saw the police cars and figured out that they were there for you?
Kelly Fyffe-Marshall: My first response was fear. I thought of Sandra Bland. I watched that story so closely because were the same age and I understood her thoughts. I saw myself as Sandra Bland, so when this happened, I thought of all the people before me who hadnt made it out of the situation. When the police got their cars and told us to put our hands up, that was my first thought.
Donisha Prendergast: We find the response from the police and their use of the words respect and dignity about the situation to be skewed. When they jumped out of the vehicle and shouted at us to put our hands up with their hands on their holsters unclipped and ready, I dont think thats a respectful way to engage anyone. We arent used to people speaking to us in that kind of disrespectful tone. We demanded of them that they treat us with the respect that is due to us.
theGrio: What prompted you to start filming the incident?
DP: Were filmmakers so our first instinct is to document. Also, we know our camera can be used as a weapon of mass construction. In this instance, we prepared ourselves with what we had to preserve our lives.
My grandma was waiting on me when those policemen decided to interrupt my life with their stupid, irresponsible, expensive display of fear that escalated from one woman. For her to say that we didnt smile and wave, thats not cool because thats not true. She didnt smile or wave either.
As a matter of fact, the energy that we perceived from her as she was standing across the way was uncomfortable. She didnt want us there. Her hand was on her window and she was on her phone. So, if someone was really afraid of us, I think they would have been inside behind blinds, not outside on the lawn looking over at us.
theGrio: How do you respond to people who say you are blowing this out of proportion given that there were no guns drawn and you were not physically beaten?
Jasmine Rand: Its kind of astounding to me that some members of the media and the general public would ask them to apologize for being alive and to apologize for not ending up like Michael Brown, for not ending up like Trayvon Martin, for not ending up face down bleeding in the ground. What we have to remember is that we are blessed that these people are alive so that we can hear their voices and so that I dont have to be their voice from beyond the grave. Right now in this nation, the only time Black people have a voice is posthumously. Not only did they have a right to stand their ground that day, but they also have a responsibility to the other people who didnt make it and to the other people in the future who are going to be in similar situations.
theGrio: There are reports that you plan to sue. Would you be suing the police department, the 911 caller, both?
JR: Theres a lot of misinformation out there. No lawsuit has been filed. What weve done so far is put them on notice of representation and asked that all the documents and evidence be transmitted to us and obviously ask them not to destroy any evidence.
So, were going to review it to see the extent to which their constitutional rights were violated. From the video evidence we already have, its obvious to me that there were violations of their fourth amendment rights and violations of their 14th amendment rights under the equal protection clause and certainly they were falsely imprisoned.
We will see if we will proceed forward with litigation and in addition, we are looking for the Rialto Police Department to conduct an independent criminal investigation into the neighbor who placed the 911 call who initiated these false allegations against our clients.
Theres a California statute that provides a remedy for exactly this instance in which a person endangers another persons life by placing a call making false allegations.
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