Three black women who stayed at an Airbnb in California were detained and harassed by police after a white neighbor reported them for removing luggage from the house where they were staying.
Filmmaker Kells Fyffe-Marshall posted video of the incident on Facebook. In her post, she wrote:
During our time in Cali we have been staying at an Airbnb. The 30th was our second morning and at about 11am we checked out. The four of us packed our bags, locked up the house and left. As you can see 3 of us were Black. About 10 seconds later we were surrounded by 7 cop cars. The officers came out of their cars demanding us to put our hands in the air. They informed us that there was also a helicopter tracking us. They locked down the neighborhood and had us standing in the street. Why? A neighbour across the street saw 3 black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police.
Fyffe-Marshall’s video confirms the number of police vehicles and the reason for their presence. At one point, an officer with the Rialto Police Department says, apparently mid-sentence, “–said that there’s like, three black people stealing stuff.” A voice interjects, “Stealing stuff?” The officer confirms, “Yeah, like breaking into the house and taking things.” Another voice says, “No, we’re taking our suitcases out of the house we were staying in.” The officer says, again, “Right, they said like luggage and stuff, so…”
Fyfe-Marshall’s account continues. She writes, “At first we joked about the misunderstanding and took photos and videos along the way. About 20 minutes into this misunderstanding it escalated almost instantly. Their Sergeant arrived…he explained they didn’t know what Airbnb was. He insisted that we were lying about it and said we had to prove it. We showed them the booking confirmations and phoned the landlord…because they didn’t know what she looked like on the other end to confirm it was her…they detained us – because they were investigating a felony charge – for 45 minutes while they figured it out.”
At one point in the video, one of the women says, “It’s because there’s three black people in the neighborhood, of course.” The officer replies, “It’s possible, but like I said, you never know.”
Law&Crime reached out to the Rialto Police Department for comment and clarification on this story, but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.
[image via screengrab]