The parents of a 14-year-old Black child are demanding justice after they say the teenager was wrongfully accused of stealing a white woman’s iPhone.
Over the weekend on Instagram, acclaimed jazz musician Keyon Harrold posted a shocking video in which he and his son Keyon Harrold Jr. were accosted by a white female in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan.
After Harrold and his son came down from their room to get breakfast, a woman accuses the boy of stealing her iPhone.
In the clip, the woman — who Harrold says had checked out of the hotel three days prior — tells Harrold and his son, “Show me the [phone]… Take the case off, that’s mine.”
Towards the end of the clip, the woman appears to lunge at the family, falling down in the process.
In his caption, Harrold accuses the woman of assaulting him and his son as he tried “protecting my son from this lunatic.”
“She scratched me; she Tackled and grabbed him. He is a child!!!” Harold wrote.
While the manager on duty says in the video he is trying to “settle this situation,” Harold writes that he was “[advocating] for the lady who is not even a hotel guest, insisting and attempting to use his managerial authority to force my son to show his phone to this random lady. He actually empowered her!!! He didn't even consider the fact we were actually the guests!”
Eventually, Harrold says the woman’s “phone was magically returned by an Uber driver a few minutes after this incident.” Despite this, Harrold says she and the establishment did not offer apologies over the event.
More than anything, Harrold is concerned with how this incident will affect his son’s mental health.
“Now think about the trauma that my son now has to carry, only coming downstairs to have box day brunch with his dad,” he wrote, adding, “This ---- happens so often. It needs to stop!!!”
On Monday, after the clip went viral, Arlo Hotel issued a statement saying the manager on duty “called the police regarding the woman’s conduct” and that they were “deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel.”
They also offered an apology to Harrold and his son as “no Arlo guest — or any person — should be subject to this kind of behavior.”
However, Harrold and his family are demanding justice and for charges to be brought against the woman.
Recently, Harrold sought legal counsel from Ben Crump — who is also representing the late George Floyd and his family — and they have organized a petition urging the Manhattan DA to prosecute the woman in question.
“Keyon Harrold Jr. will live with this trauma for life, the weight of racism on the shoulders of another generation. He deserves better than this treatment!” the petition reads. “The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr. and I are calling on the Manhattan District Attorney to bring charges of assault and battery against this woman, but we need your help! EMAIL the Manhattan District Attorney and help us achieve JUSTICE for the Harrold family.”
As of this writing, the petition has amassed over 33K supporters.
On Monday, Harrold and his wife Kat gave an emotional interview to TMZ, stating that they strongly suspect Harrold Jr.’s race played a factor in the woman’s accusation.
“[Harrold Jr.] asked me, ‘Why did she think she can accuse me? Why me, Mom?’” Kat recounted. “When you have to sit down with your son and say, ‘Well, Son, it might be because you’re Black and it might be because she felt threatened and you didn’t fit in into this nice hotel.’ No one should ever have to deal with that. No one!”
Crump also demanded that a civil rights investigation be launched against the Arlo Hotel for the alleged “implicit bias” and “racial profiling” tactics they used against paying guests.