“I was confused,” Keyon Harrold Jr. said. ‘I mean, I do not know what would have happened if my father had not been there honestly. The last few days, still a shock. But I’m hanging in there. ‘
He appears with his father – Grammy-winning jazz musician Keyon Harrold – his mother Kat Rodriguez and their attorney Ben Crump, who are appealing to the Manhattan District Attorney to file charges against the woman.
The incident, which was recorded on a cellphone video, took place in the foyer of the Arlo Hotel on Saturday, where the teenager and his father were staying as guests. The unidentified woman repeatedly demanded that he ‘give back’, referring to her cellphone.
Watch the video posted on social media below:
The woman’s cellphone was later found in an Uber.
“To me, I was confused because I had never seen that lady before, and at the moment I did not know what to do,” Harrold Jr. said. “Initially, I want to apologize. And two, I’ll ask her why she would do such a thing to a child who’s never met you?”
The video has since gone viral, sparking accusations of racial profiling against Harrold and his family.
Harrold Sr. said the woman physically ‘asked everything on him to ask for a phone call immediately’ as soon as they came down the foyer.
“But after the video was cut off, and I mean, she basically tackled, she scratched me, and I was there to try and protect my little puppy,” he said. ‘And actually trying to keep her away from my son. I could not imagine what it would have been like if I had not been with him. ‘
Watch: The Harrold family talks to ‘GMA’:
He also said he was thrown away that the hotel representative ‘basically agrees with her’ about his son.
“I just will not stand for it,” he said. “I’m still in shock, I’m still trying to believe, you know, that it happened so fast by chance … It’s just amazing that someone literally has the audacity to accept and wrongly accuse.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio also weighed in and said of the incident: “It is racism. Clear and simple.”
“It would be horrible at any age, but it is especially offensive that it happened to a child,” he wrote on Twitter. “To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I’m sorry it happened to you. Her behavior was an insult to the values of our city.”
This is racism. Clear and simple.
It would be horrible at any age, but it is especially offensive that it happened to a child.
To Keyon Harrold Jr. and his family: I’m so sorry it happened to you. Her behavior was an insult to our city’s values. https://t.co/xuWRyHTJmW
– Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) 29 December 2020
Harrold said his son is still shaky about the incident.
“He wanted to know how it was his fault,” Harrold said. “Actually, it’s about my conversations to let him know that the boy, you’re just, you know, keep living the way you live. We need to do things. We need to change the story. We need to change laws. We need to do things that enables you to literally be the American little boy, a 14-year-old minor who you are, who has your rights.You have just as many rights as anyone else who walks these streets.
Rodriguez, who was not present at the time, said she was still waiting to hear from the woman she wanted to bring forward and explain herself.
“Fear came because my son, if his father had not been there, would have happened to my son if the police had been called,” she said. “When my son asked me, ‘Why me, mother?’ It just hurt.
The confrontation has caused comparisons with recent incidents with false accusations against black people. In May, a black birdwatcher picked up his phone in Central Park and caught a white woman who called police to report being threatened by “an African-American man.”
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump is appealing to DA Cy Vance in Manhattan to file charges against the woman in the video.
“We want charges because we have to send a message because it has bigger implications for society,” he said. “Think of how many black men have been falsely accused by these Karen and they eventually lose their freedom and lose their lives in prison.”
New York police did not identify the woman and only said there was a charge of harassment on file for an incident Saturday at the hotel. A Vance spokesman said the office was investigating the incident thoroughly but did not elaborate further.
The hotel management said in a post on Sunday that they had apologized to Harrold and his son.
“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident of unfounded accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” they said on Facebook.
(Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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