Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of reggae icon Bob Marley, claims that she and her friends were racially profiled by police officers in Southern California.
Prendergast says she had rented an Airbnb home in Rialto, California, as she and her friends planned to attend a music festival in nearby San Bernardino. When a neighbor saw Prendergast and her friends, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, all of whom are black, plus an additional friend who is white, moving their suitcases out of the house, she got suspicious and contacted the police.
Police officers arrived on the scene and questioned the renters for 22-minutes. Rialto police department later released body camera video footage showing that the officers acted politely and professionally while dealing with the situation.
However, at a news conference on Thursday, Prendergast said that just because the police didn’t draw their weapons this time, it didn’t make the incident any less dangerous. “Do you not understand how you jeopardized our lives because of your fear?” she asked. “Just because I’m living here to tell this story doesn’t make it any more right.”
“We don’t need more trouble, what we need is love,” she added, quoting one of her famous grandfather’s songs.
Prendergast said that the police and the neighbor in question should be investigated for how they handled the situation and is considering taking legal action. She also posted a statement on Instagram, writing, “Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood.”
Be Love. So much things to say right now…. Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood. Smh. 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. We are stronger together. Use your voice collectively. #unafraid #mightcannotdefeatright #wewillrizetogether #buildcomeunity #strongertogether #useyourvoice #eachoneteach We have a right to be right. @iamdonisha @directedbykells @ahutchphoto @komiolaf
Fyffe-Marshall, who is a filmmaker, took to Facebook to share a short video of the encounter, writing that they were “surrounded” by seven cop cars and told to put their hands in the air. In the longer video released by Rialto police, the renters ask whether the 911 call was racially motivated.
Lt. Dean Harden told Billboard that the Prendergast and her friends “were detained long enough to figure out if that was true [that they were renting an Airbnb]. They were allowed to move about and they filmed the whole thing… The officers figured out pretty quickly that this was probably an incident where they were renting a room, but they had to make sure.”
Rialto police Chief Mark Kling said the department has been unfairly accused of racism.