The Airbnb company logo is displayed on the screen of an Apple iPhone 6 in Paris, France on Sept. 8, 2017.
Chesnot—Getty Images
By Aric Jenkins
May 8, 2018

Donisha Prendergast, the granddaughter of famed musician Bob Marley, will sue a California police department after officers mistook her and her friends for burglars, instead of Airbnb guests, authorities said.

The Rialto Police Department was served with a lawsuit notice Monday following the Apr. 30 incident involving Prendergast and her two friends, all of whom are black, according to the New York Daily News.

According to the report, Prendergast and her friends were spotted loading luggage into their car outside of the Airbnb home when a local resident called 911 because they did not “recognize the vehicle or the people as neighbors, or the homeowner.”

Police arrived and confronted the trio, explaining that a neighbor saw “three black people stealing stuff,” according to the Daily News.

“Like breaking into the house and taking stuff,” an officer can be heard saying in video footage of the incident. After roughly 20 minutes of debate, police eventually accepted the group were “Airbnb renters and were at the residence as guests,” law enforcement officials said.

“Got surrounded by the police for being black in a white neighbourhood,” Prendergast wrote in a May 1 Instagram post with video of the encounter. “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,” she added. “That’s a crazy reality check. Give Thanks for life, and the ability to stand our ground.” Prendergast did not immediately respond to Fortune for a request for comment.

This is not the first time Airbnb has been involved with racial discrimination incidents. Last year, a white woman cancelled a guest’s reservations because she was Asian. Airbnb subsequently banned the woman, fined $5,000, and forced to take a class on Asian studies.


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