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Three black Airbnb guests who were questioned by cops plan to take legal action

first_imgCarl Court/Getty Images(RIALTO, Calif.) — Three black Airbnb guests are planning to take legal action against the Rialto Police Department in California after police responded to a 911 caller who wrongly reported a burglary at the location of their Airbnb stay.A neighbor of the Airbnb reported a burglary to police, and she claimed she saw four unfamiliar people loading luggage into a vehicle in the driveway across the street.The police dispatched six officers and a patrol helicopter, securing the perimeter while the people in question drove away.After making contact with the occupants of the vehicle, officers determined they were, in fact, Airbnb guests by contacting the homeowner. The four Airbnb guests who were detained by police were then released without incident and the April 30 encounter, according to police, lasted for a total of 22 minutes.While responding to the call, officers state they refrained from using any form of restraints and allowed the people involved to exit the vehicle while attempting to contact the Airbnb owner.This was the first time this particular home was rented out on Airbnb, Lt. Dean Hardin of the Rialto Police Department told ABC News.Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, one of the four Airbnb renters, posted on Facebook after the incident, writing that “a neighbor across the street saw three black people packing luggage into their car and assumed we were stealing from the house.”Fyffe-Marshall disputed the police statement, saying they were detained for 45 minutes and were surrounded by seven police cars. She went on to claim in the post that officers demanded they put their hands up, locked down the neighborhood and accused them of lying about staying in the Airbnb.Jasmine Rand, one of the lawyers representing the three renters who plan to sue, told ABC News that a lawsuit has not yet been filed but that legal action against the police department is imminent. Rand wouldn’t elaborate on the details of the legal actions they’re planning to take at this point.Rand confirmed that the three people involved in the lawsuit are black, including two females and one male.“You want to laugh about this but it’s not funny. The trauma is real. I’ve been angry, frustrated and sad,” Fyffe-Marshall wrote in her Facebook post about the incident. She could not be reached for further comments on the case.Fyffe-Marshall along with Donisha Prendergast and Komi-Oluwa Olafimihan are the three individuals from the incident who will be involved in the forthcoming litigation.Hardin cannot confirm if the individuals were targeted based on their race because he “can’t get into the reporting party’s head,” but he did confirm with ABC News that the call was made from a white woman who did not recognize the people in the driveway across the street.In regards to the conflicting timeline provided by Fyffe-Marshall, Hardin explained that the times provided in the department’s statement are based on their computerized dispatch system where all times are logged.The dispatch of the patrol helicopter and securing a perimeter is standard procedure for any in-progress felony, Hardin told ABC News.The Rialto Police Department said in a statement that they’re “confident officers treated the involved individuals with dignity, respect, and professionalism.”The four people in question were cooperative throughout the encounter, Hardin said. The department is preparing for legal action by preserving all evidence of the call, including the recordings from the responding officers’ body cameras.An Airbnb spokesperson told ABC News in a statement that what happened “is unconscionable and a reminder of how far we still have to go as a society,” and believes that this was an issue with a neighbor who’s not a member of the Airbnb community.In a letter to Rialto’s mayor and interim police chief, Airbnb’s senior advisor and director of national partnerships state that they’re “deeply disturbed by the public reports suggesting that the police department’s response was dictated by the guests’ race,” and called for a meeting to “ensure that these kinds of incidents do not happen again.”Airbnb has also reached out to the victims to express their sympathy and full support, the statement said.This all comes at a time of heightened tensions between minority communities and law enforcement agencies across America. Just last month the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks sparked a firestorm after they were accused of trespassing because they had not purchased anything.Rand will be co-counseling the case with Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney known for his work representing Trayvon Martin’s family and most recently the family of Stephon Clark.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Apple employee detained by US border agents over his iPhone and laptop speaks out

first_imgI was subject to an unlawful border search and together with the @ACLU I’m filing a civil rights complaint against @CBP https://t.co/6Mp08ffdMm— andreasgal (@andreasgal) April 2, 2019“They wanted to see my itinerary on my smartphone. I offered to email them my itinerary and they insisted on seeing it on my smartphone. This was very alarming for me. These are not regular consumer devices. These are special devices used by Apple software and hardware engineers,” Gal said.Apple declined to comment for this story.“That seemed to aggravate these customs agents and they started getting very upset with me and they said they had the right to access my devices and I had to turn over my passport,” Gal said. “I told them I wanted to talk to an attorney and my employer so I could understand my responsibilities with regard to this NDA.”The agents threatened to criminally charge Gal under accusations that he was in violation of U.S. Code § 111, he said. That section of federal law relates to assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain government agents.Gal’s detention and alleged threats by the CBP agents, resulted in a civil rights complaint filed on March 28 by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU) of Northern California against the United States. The complaint alleges that the search of Gal’s possessions violated the Fourth and First Amendments, which protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures and protects free speech.In the 10 years prior to becoming a citizen, Gal said he made about 100 international trips, all without incident.“They told me at the border, even as a U.S. citizen, I don’t have any rights to an attorney,” Gal, who became a U.S. citizen three years ago, said. “I told them I wanted to speak to an attorney. Then they said they would keep my devices and I said I don’t consent to it but I would comply.”“I think by me resisting their unlawful demands, I think at some point they saw there’s nothing further they can do or say to change my mind and then they decided to let me go,” he said. He said in the end he was able to keep his devices and never unlocked them for the agents or handed over his passwords.As Gal was leaving, the CBP agents confiscated his Global Entry card and revoked his status. Global Entry is a program administered by CBP which allows pre-screened, low-risk international travelers to skip security lines upon arrival in the U.S.On his next return from Europe, Gal noticed the code “SSSS” on his boarding pass, indicating a secondary security screening. Prior to the November incident, Gal was never subject to a secondary screening in any of his border crossings back into the U.S., he said.A spokesperson from CBP told ABC News in an email that they could not comment on Gal’s situation as it is “currently under investigation.”“However, in general, all travelers arriving to the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection. This inspection may include electronic devices such as computers, disks, drives, tapes, mobile phones and other communication devices, cameras, music and other media players and any other electronic or digital devices,” the spokesperson wrote, in part.The CBP spokesperson also said that travelers who do not provide the items requested by their agents “may result in the detention and/or seizure of the electronic device.”Between 2016 and 2017, CBP had a 59% jump in the number of searches of electronic devices, according to the agency’s data.“Approximately 0.007 percent of arriving international travelers processed by CBP officers (more than 397 million) had their electronic devices searched (more than 29,200). In FY16, 0.005 percent of arriving international travelers (more than 390 million) had their electronic devices searched (more than 18,400),” a CBP spokesperson wrote in an email.One of the reasons Gal said he filed the complaint was to find out why he was flagged for detention.“Why me? I’m a boring, middle-aged white male software executive. I’m very average. It’s not something I would have expected to experience, to get yelled at by three armed men just because I return home,” Gal said.Gal charged that his stop by CBP agents may be because of his work at Mozilla and the company’s views on opposing the government’s warrantless mass surveillance.“In the past two years I’ve been very outspoken on the Trump administration’s policies on social media, particularly with respect to Customs and Border Protection and immigration,” said Gal.The ACLU complaint states that such searches may unlawfully curb the behavior of citizens like Gal.“Furthermore, singling out a traveler for invasive questioning and search on the basis of his avowed political viewpoints threatens to chill the traveling public from exercising their First Amendment rights publicly as well,” the complaint read, in part. “Those who expect to travel internationally may self-censor what they say in public, knowing that CBP officers might target those with disfavored political viewpoints for questioning and searches at the border that go beyond immigration or customs matters.”Gal said the experience invoked a fear of traveling.“It was a very alarming experience for me,” he told ABC News. “There’s no such thing as a cursory inspection of the contents of your cell phone…This is essentially my entire life for the last 10 to 15 years I’m carrying with me on my cell phone. And CBP seems to believe without a court-issued warrant they can inspect the last 10 to 15 years of my life just because I’m travelling internationally.”Gal had also alerted his Congresswoman, Jackie Speier, about the incident. Speier contacted CBP about the situation and the agency stood by their inspection of Gal, according to a letter whose contents were shared with ABC News.“If being searched and threatened with criminal prosecution by three armed men for an hour and denied access to a lawyer and then having your Global Entry card and status taken is ‘an inspection without incident’ I don’t want to know what an ‘inspection WITH incident’ looks like,” Gal wrote in a text message to ABC News.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved. Courtesy Andreas Gal(SAN FRANCISCO) — When Apple employee Andreas Gal returns from an international trip, he said he’s usually on his way home within minutes.But when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport last November, he was detained for an hour by three armed U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents, who demanded access to his iPhone XS and MacBook Pro laptop, he said.“They insisted on searching the contents of my cell phone and my laptop that were issued to me by Apple,” Gal told ABC News. “Which put me in a difficult situation because I signed NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) for those devices. They are owned by Apple and they contain proprietary information from Apple.”The border patrol agents asked about Gal’s work at his former employer, Mozilla – the company which makes the Firefox internet browser – as well as his current work at Apple and his business trip to Sweden, Gal said.last_img read more