Black women swarmed by police at Airbnb rental

Three black women were swarmed by officers outside of their Airbnb rental after someone called the police on them thinking they were burglars in Rialto, California.

Posted: May 8, 2018 6:26 PM
Updated: May 8, 2018 6:28 PM

At first, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall's stay in Rialto, California, was ending pretty normally. She and her four friends -- three of them black women -- checked out of their Airbnb rental and dragged their luggage to their vehicle.

Then things got weird.

Seven police cars showed up. The neighborhood was seemingly locked down.

Then things got scary.

The police told Fyffe-Marshall and her friends to put their hands in the air, and then informed them a helicopter was tracking them.

Why all the commotion?

Someone had called the police on them, thinking they might be burglars.

'You want to laugh ... but it's not funny'

Fyffe-Marshall, a filmmaker, detailed her experience in a Facebook post that caught fire this past weekend.

"A neighbor 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 wrote. "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."

A police sergeant showed up, Fyffe-Marshall says in her account, and said he didn't know what Airbnb was. The group showed the police their booking confirmations and phoned the home's landlord to convince police they were telling the truth.

The entire episode lasted a frustratingly long 45 minutes, she said.

"We have been dealing with different emotions and you want to laugh about this but it's not funny," she wrote. "The trauma is real. I've been angry, frustrated and sad. I was later detained at the airport. This is insanity."

Rialto Police Lt. Dean Hardin told CNN the person who called police was an elderly white woman, and she did not recognize the women as being her neighbors. Hardin could not speak to the allegation the group was targeted due to their race.

"I cannot get into the caller's head, beyond that she thought she was seeing a crime," Hardin said.

Police said in a news release the encounter took 22 minutes and that "through reasonable inquiry officers learned the residence was an unlicensed Airbnb." The group of women were "immediately released without incident" after the incident, the release states.

"At no time during the encounter did officers use any form of restraints with the involved people and actually allowed them to exit their vehicle and assist officers in locating the owner of the unlicensed Airbnb," the release reads.

On Monday, the release said, the Rialto Police Department was served with a notification of pending legal action on behalf of Donisha Prendergast, who police said is the granddaughter of singer/songwriter Bob Marley. Fyffe-Marshall and another woman, Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan, were also listed on the legal notification with Prendergast.

CNN contacted Fyffe-Marshall, who said her attorney, who also is representing the other two women, told them not to comment at this time.

While the department said it is now "limited in response," it said in the release that the department "was a pioneer in the nation's implementation of Axon body worn officer cameras."

Airbnb said in a statement to CNN that it has reached out to the women to "express our sympathy and full support." The company also said what happened was "unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society."

"Airbnb's mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere and we have aggressively worked to fight bias and discrimination in society," the company's statement said. "We are also reaching out to our partners at the NAACP, National Action Network, Color Of Change, and others to discuss this matter and ensure we are doing all we can to protect our community when they travel."

Other incidents

The incident in California is one of a several across the country recently in which people of color have been either arrested or detained by police for seemingly innocuous acts:

-- Two black men were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks last month after a manager called 911 on them because they didn't order anything. The men said they were waiting on an acquaintance. They were later released with no charges filed against them. Starbucks' CEO apologized and the company reached an undisclosed settlement with the men.

-- A pair of Native American teens on a college tour of Colorado State University were briefly detained by police last week after the parent of another prospective student on the tour called 911 because she said the teens made her "nervous." School officials apologized.

-- A group of black woman said a golf course in Pennsylvania called the police after accusing them of playing too slowly.

-- LA Fitness apologized to two black men who were booted from a gym in New Jersey and had the police called on them amid racial profiling allegations.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 36096

Reported Deaths: 2231
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion10095598
Lake3833203
Allen175371
Cass15927
Elkhart149528
St. Joseph133736
Hendricks119276
Hamilton118394
Johnson1121112
Madison59961
Porter55830
Clark53041
Bartholomew52739
LaPorte44624
Howard44036
Tippecanoe4294
Jackson3992
Shelby39722
Delaware38940
Hancock35127
Boone32435
Floyd32340
Vanderburgh2892
Morgan28426
Noble26821
Montgomery24818
Clinton2461
White2389
Decatur23131
Grant22523
Dubois2093
Harrison19522
Henry18412
Kosciusko1792
Vigo1788
Marshall1782
Greene17225
Dearborn17022
Monroe17012
Lawrence16724
Warrick16729
Miami1441
Putnam1427
Jennings1324
Orange13122
Scott1263
Franklin1168
LaGrange1162
Ripley1086
Daviess9916
Carroll943
Steuben882
Wayne866
Wabash802
Fayette797
Newton7810
Jasper731
Jay540
Clay533
Randolph523
Rush513
Washington501
Fulton501
Pulaski500
Jefferson491
Whitley453
DeKalb441
Starke393
Perry390
Huntington382
Sullivan371
Owen341
Wells340
Brown331
Benton320
Knox310
Blackford272
Tipton261
Crawford240
Fountain222
Switzerland210
Spencer211
Adams211
Gibson192
Parke180
Posey160
Martin130
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Union90
Pike60
Unassigned0179

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37282

Reported Deaths: 2340
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin6216293
Cuyahoga4732259
Hamilton2767167
Marion268631
Lucas2313263
Pickaway209638
Summit1505181
Mahoning1466191
Butler94832
Columbiana89152
Stark782101
Lorain72260
Montgomery72016
Trumbull59451
Belmont44715
Warren39821
Medina37625
Tuscarawas3674
Miami36630
Delaware35514
Ashtabula34738
Portage33357
Lake32012
Fairfield3148
Clark3137
Wood30449
Geauga30034
Wayne29351
Licking26710
Mercer2238
Allen21933
Clermont2185
Richland2164
Darke18923
Erie18516
Madison1637
Washington11819
Crawford1184
Morrow1081
Greene1055
Ottawa10417
Putnam9514
Sandusky8512
Monroe8015
Auglaize773
Ross732
Hardin710
Hocking705
Jefferson672
Huron611
Williams561
Union551
Muskingum541
Holmes543
Hancock531
Wyandot482
Shelby463
Fulton450
Coshocton450
Clinton451
Logan430
Fayette410
Preble391
Guernsey382
Defiance342
Carroll343
Lawrence311
Brown301
Champaign281
Seneca262
Highland261
Knox251
Vinton212
Ashland210
Perry191
Athens181
Henry170
Scioto170
Jackson140
Paulding140
Adams111
Harrison100
Pike90
Gallia81
Van Wert70
Meigs60
Noble60
Morgan50
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 66°
Decatur
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Van Wert
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Few Storms Friday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events