NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The parents of a Black teenager who was attacked and falsely accused of stealing a cellphone spoke out Monday.
They want more done to combat racial injustice in New York and around the country, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
“I can’t hug him from the back without him cringing,” said Kat Rodriguez about her son. “He actually asked me not to affectionately touch his back or shoulders.”
It’s only the first step, they say.
“This racial profiling thing, it’s real,” said Keyon Harrold Sr. “You don’t have to say the ‘N’ word to act in a racist way.”
“The Arlo [Hotel] looked right over my son,” he continued.
Ponsetto appears to falsely accuse Keyon of stealing her phone before tackling him.
The manager of the hotel approached the teen and asked to see the phone. But Keyon never had it.
The family is now asking for people to boycott the business and its parent company unless they put an end to what they call racial profiling.
“Arlo Hotel is just as responsible as this ‘SoHo Karen’ and we’re going to check out if they don’t step up,” said attorney Ben Crump.
The Arlo Hotel has apologized for the incident and said the manager called police regarding Ponsetto’s conduct.
Hours before her arrest, Ponsetto and her attorney sat down for an exclusive interview with Gayle King of “CBS This Morning.”
We have more of our exclusive interview with Miya Ponsetto, the 22-year-old who allegedly attacked & falsely accused a Black teen of stealing her phone.
@GayleKing spoke w/ Ponsetto before her arrest last week. Despite public outcry, she insists race has nothing to do with it. pic.twitter.com/IypfNUz8b7
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 11, 2021
“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I am a woman. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m like, a woman of color,” Ponsetto told King.
Ponsetto argues her actions were not racially charged.
“I’m sincerely sorry to the family and the dad and the son for making them feel as if I was racist towards them,” Ponsetto said.
Ponsetto’s attorney says her client appears to be emotionally unwell.
Keyon’s parents say the issue is part of a larger conversation about racism in America.
“These little microcosms, they can expand and they can do big damage and we’ve seen it over and over, people wrongly accused,” said Harrold Sr.
“This is the reality of mothers of Black children in America,” said Rodriguez. “Everyday we must face the reality that a simple instance of mistaken identity or a misunderstanding can end in tragedy.”
“The outcome could have been [Keyon] in a casket,” she continued.
Keyon’s parents say he is in therapy and remains confused as to why this happened to him.
They are asking for the incident to be deemed a hate crime.
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CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.