In Rialto, California. A neighbour called the police on 4 guests checking out of a house used as Airbnb because she waved at them and they didn’t wave back at her, however, it seems the race of the guests has a role to play in the neighbour’s motive and the disproportionate police action who responded within seconds with 7 cop cars and Helicopter tracking.
The story was told by one of the victims Kells Fyffe-Marshall on facebook
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.
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.
The cops admit that the woman’s reason for calling the police was because we didn’t WAVE to her as she looked at us putting our luggage into our car from her lawn
Online reactions suggest Rialto is not entirely a white-dominated area, it apparently has a good proportion of black and Latino population, however, a white neighbour seeing four black women exiting a property with luggage and ignoring her gesture by not waving back at her was enough to trigger her suspicion that the women were stealing from the property.
It appears the nosy neighbour was not aware the property is being used as an Airbnb business, which may justify her concerns but, although it has to be asked if the guests were all White, would she still call the police and report suspicious activities?
what about the police reaction?
Responding with 7 cop cars and helicopter, refusing to accept the explanation even with evidence of booking reference and speaking with the house owner and then detaining the guests for no specific logical reason is at the very least high handed or underlying stereotype of anything black must be negative