Marie Rodriguez, the woman who owns the Airbnb where Black guests were questioned by police for suspicion of burglary, is coming out in defense of her neighbor who called the cops in the first place.
“They’re making it sound like it’s racially motivated, and it has nothing to do with that. It’s all over social media,” said Rodriguez, in an interview with the Sun about the Rialto, CA incident.
A Wave to a 911 Call
Rodriguez’ neighbor saw her four Airbnb guests—three of whom were Black—exiting Rodriguez’ home and putting luggage into a vehicle in the driveway. The neighbor claims she did not recognize the people. In response, she smiled and waved at them, but got no response. She apparently found that suspicious and called 911 saying that there was a burglary in progress.
“It was based on their rudeness and lack of good nature that caused her to call the police. It had nothing to do with being black,” she told the paper.
The Airbnb guests were already en route to their next destination when several police cars arrived, boxing the car in and creating a perimeter around the neighborhood. Rialto police Lt. Dean Hardin said a helicopter was called but was canceled before it arrived. The women were questioned for approximately 20 minutes as officers sorted out the situation.
Eventually, the women were released with no charges, but not before they recorded and posted the interaction onto social media. That footage has since gone viral. One of the women involved, Donisha Prendergast, is the granddaughter of the late reggae legend Bob Marley. Yesterday, she announced plans to sue the Rialto Police Department.
Rodriguez claims that she had to contact Airbnb because Prendergast and her pals left the home without paying the $50 fee for having an additional person in the rental. Police say they were told the home was an “unlicensed Airbnb” and they had to investigate that aspect. Lt. Hardin says he is confident that once all videos and information are released, it will be clear that the Rialto Police Department did nothing wrong.
“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 to confirm there had been no crime committed,” Lt. Hardin said.
For her part, Rodriguez says this was her first time offering her home on Airbnb and though the experience was not without glitches, she plans to continue to offer her home through the service. Her next scheduled guests are from Australia.