NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An infuriated crowd gathered in City Hall Park on Wednesday to support Grammy Award-winning musician Keyon Harrold’s family.
They got together to denounce the racial profiling and false accusations that landed the family in the news after his son was accused by an unidentified woman of stealing her cellphone at a SoHo hotel on Saturday, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported.
The Harrold family demanded accountability, not just from the woman involved, but also from the manager of the Arlo Hotel, where Harrold and his 14-year-old son were staying.
“The racial profiling that Keyon Harrold documented on that cellphone video, if not held accountable, leads to the racial profiling of Andre Hill being killed. It leads to the racial profiling of Ahmaud Arbery for jogging while Black,” attorney Benjamin Crump said.
“It was so crazy to me, I thought it was a joke at first. That’s the reason why I took out my cellphone because I couldn’t believe this was happening,” Harrold said.
The outrage came in response to the footage captured by the boy’s father inside the lobby of the hotel. The unidentified woman is heard accusing Keyon Harrold Jr. of stealing her cellphone.
“This is my phone,” Harrold Jr. says.
“You don’t have to explain nothing to her,” Harrold Sr. adds.
“Take the case off. That’s mine, literally. Give it back, please!” a woman wearing a mask says.
“Are you kidding me? You feel like there is only one iPhone made in the world?” Harrold Sr. says.
“Then show me, then show me,” she says.
“No, get a life,” Harrold Sr. says.
A person who identified himself as the manager then approaches the teen. Harrold Sr. said the woman not only scratched him but also tackled his son during the alleged assault.
“This culture of implicit bias that so many people have, it needs to stop,” Harrold Sr. said.
A short time after the incident, an Uber driver found the woman’s phone in his car returned it to the hotel.
Detectives have positively identified the woman by name as a California resident, and they believe she is still in the New York area and are looking for her.
Criminal charges are being considered, ranging from assault to attempted robbery, Fan reported.
“It breaks my heart that this is happening to our son,” mother Kat Rodriguez said. “This incident could have been avoided in so many ways. The hotel manager, management and security had plenty of time to de-escalate the situation before the lady had a chance to assault our son.
“When the manager, Chad Nathan, asked my son for his phone, he empowered that woman to assault my son and is equally to blame,” Rodriguez added.
In a statement, the Arlo Hotel said it was deeply disheartened by what happened and is committed to make sure something like this never happens again.
The family said they are fighting so publicly to ensure other children aren’t subjected to the same type of racial discrimination.
“We are all supposed to have equal rights, but the reality is that we don’t. So, yes, this is a racial injustice issue,” Rodriguez said.
“Hopefully, the police report will be released because we know if the roles were reversed, nobody would be trying to protect Keyon’s identity,” Crump said.
The Harrold family met with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office later Wednesday.
CBS2’s Christina Fan contributed to this report
MORE FROM CBS NEW YORK
- New Yorkers Frustrated As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Blocks Vote On $2,000 Stimulus Checks: ‘They Are Being Cheap’
- Black Teenager Falsely Accused Of Stealing Cellphone At New York City Hotel Speaks Out: ‘I’m Still Kind Of Shellshocked’
- Squirrel-Mania! Queens Residents Describe In Graphic Detail Being Attacked By Crazed Rodents