Prior to formation of the Black Lives Movement, emerging terms familiar to Instagram users of the internet identified situations tagged “Shopping While Black,” “Driving While Black,” “Walking While Black,” “Eating While Black” and even “Sleeping While Black.”
Recently #movingwhileblack added to the lexicon describing Blacks in America who are racially profiled.
“Got surrounded by the police for being Black in a white neighborhood,” Donisha Prendergast, the 33-year-old granddaughter of Bob and Rita Marley posted to Instagram .
Along with Komi Oluwa Olatimhan, Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, the two associates with whom she shared an Airbnb in Rialto, California, Prendergast was detained and questioned by police after vacating the temporary place she rented in the predominantly white neighborhood.
Phone records to the police disclosed a caller saying: “There are strange people with luggage.”
The frantic caller added: “they are not looking at me.”
According to video accounts recorded simultaneous to the detention, Prendergast related that police responding to a phone call from a white resident in the area assumed the “strange people with luggage” were burglars.
Coolly, detailing the series of events, Prendergast resorted to social media to document how police “swooped” around her and her colleagues.
Allegedly, seven police vehicles responded.
“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 neighbor across the street saw three Black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house. She then called the police.”
“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.”
An officer could be heard in one of the videos of the incident that went viral, saying that the caller had seen “three Black people stealing stuff…like breaking into the house and taking stuff.”
Reportedly, afterwards the woman admitted the reason she made the call was because she had never seen the “strange people” before and the fact they did not wave to her prompted her to dial 911.
“Why didn’t she call the neighbor if she was suspicious? Prendergast asked during an interview on CNN.
The video posted to YouTube recorded Prendergast’s call to the landlord who verified the legitimacy of the suspects.
Prendergast explained that, “we were leaving our Airbnb when Kelly noticed a woman looking in our direction and talking on the phone.”
Kelly was perceptive.
Apparently she sensed problems and told her fellow filmmakers “I bet she is going to call the police.”
The recurring theme surrounding racial profiling seems to be prevalent throughout the nation.
Initially, police were the focus with young, Black, men suspected of bearing arms.
Perhaps, one of the most bare-faced infractions resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin after a wannabe cop exceeded his authority as a security guard by shooting and killing the unarmed Black teenager who posed no danger to the trigger-happy, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was acquitted of his murderous act.
Since that Florida incident, similar ones in Maryland, Missouri, California, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, Kansas, and New York City reported breaking news reports.
Most recently there have been rashes of assumptions by whites phoning in claims of thievery at numerous places Blacks visit. Starbucks, LA Fitness gym, at Yale University and in a Williamsburg, Brooklyn vintage shop reports of summoning police to arrest Blacks disprove the notion that Black Lives Matter.
The mayor of Rialto issued an apology to the renters. However, the Rialto police department maintains they were only responding to a situation.
Jasmine Rand, attorney said the accused individuals intend to pursue a lawsuit against the woman and the police they believe also racially profiled them because of the color of their skin.
“I’m sad and irritated to see that fear is still the first place police officers go in their pursuit to serve and protect, to the point that protocol supersedes their ability to have discernment. Many have suffered and died in moments like these. That’s a crazy reality check. Give Thanks for life, and the ability to stand our ground,” Prendergast added.