On Saturday afternoon, Keyon Harrold, a prominent jazz musician, and his 14-year-old son walked into the lobby of the Arlo, a boutique hotel in SoHo where they were staying, when they were accosted by a woman they had never seen before.
The woman falsely accused the teenager of taking her cellphone and demanded that he give it back. Tensions escalated, with the woman insisting that the teenager had the phone, yelling at him and eventually tackling him and trying to look in his pockets before they could be separated, Mr. Harrold said.
Mr. Harrold, who is Black, captured parts of the altercation in a cellphone video, which was shared widely on social media this weekend as another example of false accusations against Black people. It drew comparisons to an incident in May when a white woman called 911 to falsely claim that a Black bird-watcher in Central Park was threatening her life.
Mr. Harrold said in an interview on Sunday that the SoHo episode had left him “shellshocked.”
View this post on Instagram
He said he believed that he and his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., may have been racially profiled, though he said he did not know the race of the woman.
“I wonder what would happen if it were different, if it were a Black woman and there was a white 14-year-old,” he said.
In Mr. Harrold’s video, the hotel manager can be seen identifying himself and asking the son to produce a cellphone, in an apparent attempt to verify the woman’s claim. But the manager had no reason to believe the woman, Mr. Harrold said.
“They assumed he was guilty,” Mr. Harrold said. “The management didn’t even question her as to why she would even think he had the phone.”
The woman has not been publicly identified. Both the police and the hotel declined to share a name, and Mr. Harrold said he did not know who she was or how to contact her.
She had previously been a guest at the hotel earlier in the week, Mr. Harrold said he had been told by the hotel.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The New York Times, Mihir Zaveri