The family of Grammy-award winning jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold are calling on authorities to file assault and battery charges against a yet-to-be-identified White woman who falsely accused his teenage son of stealing her iPhone at the Arlo Hotel in New York. The phone in question was reportedly later returned by an Uber driver.
In the video of the incident shared on his Instagram account and has since been viewed over two million times, the woman in question can be seen agitated and claiming the boy, Keyon Harrold Jr., has her iPhone. Though the boy’s dad, Harrold, repeatedly explains the phone isn’t hers, she remains adamant and tells them she won’t allow them to leave until they give her her phone. A man who identifies himself as the hotel manager, also tells Harrold and his son to produce the phone to verify – to which the trumpeter responds and tells him he’s being “disrespectful.” Later in the video, the woman can be seen lunging at Harrold as they try to leave the scene.
“She scratched me; she Tackled and grabbed him,” he captioned in his post. “He is a child!!!”
Meanwhile, Harrold and his son were apparently guests at the hotel while the woman wasn’t. “This lady is not even a guest at the hotel. She checked out of the hotel on the 23rd of December; today is the 26th,” Harrold wrote. “Now watch as the manager advocates 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!”
After the phone was returned by the Uber driver, Harrold said both the woman and the hotel did not apologize. On Sunday, however, – a day after Harrold shared the video – the hotel management released a statement apologizing to them.
“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” they said. “We are committed to making sure this never happens at one of our hotels again.”
The confrontation drew comparisons to recent incidents of White people falsely accusing Black people of committing a crime. “There are thousands of black men sitting in prison who have been falsely accused,” Harrold said in an interview, according to The Guardian. “That’s why we have to address incidents like this now, before they become life altering, life impacting issues that negatively and devastatingly affect black people.”
Civil Rights attorney Ben Crump and Harrold’s family in a statement Monday also called on Manhattan DA Cy Vance to bring assault and battery charges against the woman in question.
“As this year of racial awareness is drawing to a close, it’s deeply troubling that incidents like this one, in which a Black child is viewed as and treated like a criminal, continue to happen. Compounding the injustice, the hotel manager defaulted to calling on 14-year-old Keyon [Harrold’s son] to prove his innocence, documenting that we have two justice systems in America and that Black people are treated as guilty until proven innocent,” the statement said.
“We strongly urge Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to bring assault and battery charges against this woman to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behavior is unacceptable. This is what it will take to drive change. We also call for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel for its implicit bias in its treatment of Keyon.”
Meanwhile, the New York City police have confirmed a harassment complaint stemming from an incident at the hotel has been filed, The Guardian reported. A spokesperson from the DA’s office also said they’re “thoroughly investigating” the incident though they did not share any more details.