Over the weekend, four women packed up their bags and left their Airbnb in Rialto, California. But their trip took an abrupt turn when police showed up, asking them to put their hands up. What was their crime exactly?
Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, a filmmaker, came to Rialto for an event, and she along with three friends, stayed at an Airbnb. The other guests included Donisha Prendergast, Bob Marley’s granddaughter and artist Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan.
What did these women have in common? They were women of color. As they were packing their bags into the car, an elderly woman spotted them from a nearby home and assumed they were burglars.
The woman then called the police, who arrived in seven cars. The officers told the Airbnb guests to put their hands up and informed them that a helicopter was also dispatched to track their movement.
The police didn’t know what an Airbnb was, and even though the guests were able to show their booking confirmations and contact the landlord to confirm everything, they were dismissed at first because police couldn’t verify that the woman whom they’d contacted was, in fact, the landlord.
The police released a statement saying, “At no time during the encounter did officers use any form of restraints with the involved people ad actually allowed them to exit their vehicle and assist officers in location got owner of the unlicensed Airbnb.”
Nonetheless, after this 45-minute ordeal, Fyffe-Marshall shared that “We have been dealing with different emotions and you want to laugh about this but it’s not funny. The trauma is real. I’ve been angry, frustrated and sad. I was later detained at the airport. This is insanity.”