Video shows black 14-year-old being falsely accused of theft in a SoHo hotel

On Saturday afternoon, Keyon Harrold, a leading jazz musician, and his 14-year-old son walked into the foyer of the Arlo, a boutique hotel in SoHo where they were staying, in the foyer of a woman they had never seen. .

The woman falsely accused the teenager of taking her cellphone and demanded that he return it. The tension increased, with the woman insisting that the teenager had the phone, shouting at him and finally grabbing him and trying to look into his pockets before it could be separated, Mr. Harrold said.

Mr. Harrold, who is black, captured parts of the altercation in a cellphone video that was widely shared on social media over the weekend as another example of false accusations against black people. It showed comparisons to an incident in May when a white woman called 911 to falsely claim that a black birdwatcher in Central Park was threatening her life.

Mr. Harrold said in an interview Sunday that the SoHo episode left him “shocked.”

He said he believes he and his son, Keyon Harrold jr., May have been racially profiled, though he said he did not know the woman’s race.

“I wonder what would have happened if it was different, if it was a black woman and there was a white 14-year-old,” he said.

In the video of mr. Harrold can be seen the hotel manager identifying himself and asking the boy to produce a cell phone, in an apparent attempt to confirm the woman’s claim. But the driver had no reason to believe the woman, Mr. Harrold said.

“They assumed he was guilty,” he said. Harrold said. “The management did not even ask her why she would think he had the phone.”

The woman was not publicly identified. Both the police and the hotel did not want to share a name, and Mr. Harrold said he did not know who she was or how to contact her.

She was a guest at the hotel earlier this week, Mr. Harrold said the hotel told him.

The hotel also told Mr. Harrold said an Uber driver found her phone later that day, and she went to pick it up at the hotel, Mr. Harrold said.

The hotel did not answer questions about the woman on Sunday. Arlo, which has two hotels in the city, advertises the SoHo location as a trendy destination with a rooftop bar and views of the Hudson River. Heated cabins in its courtyard can “take guests to the country without ever leaving the city”, the hotel says on its website.

In a statement, the hotel asked Mr. Harrold and his son apologize. While the hotel said the driver called police to report the incident and that hotel security had intervened, “more could be done to ease the dispute.”

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident of unfounded accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of the Arlo Hotel,” the hotel said, dedicating itself to “making sure it never happens again at any of our hotels. . ”

Police officers confirmed that they had received a report of an incident in the hotel on Saturday and said they were investigating.

The episode at the hotel followed several recent cases where racist treatment of black people was captured on video and widely circulated, including the incident in Central Park in May, which took place after the black birdwatcher asked a white woman to her dog leash.

Mr. Harrold, of Ferguson, Mo., moved to New York City and began playing jazz at the age of 19. He has performed with high-profile artists such as Common, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Beyoncé and Rihanna. and he appeared on a soundtrack for a jazz biopic about Miles Davis, “Miles Ahead,” which won a 2017 Grammy Award.

Mr. Harrold said he has been staying at the Arlo Hotel since mid-December. He lives in Long Island City, Queens, but said a change in the environment has spurred his creativity. He said he and his son were planning to have brunch when they encountered the woman at the hotel on Saturday.

He said the woman scratched him as he struggled to keep her away from his son during the altercation. He said he was worried about what would have happened if he had not been there to protect his son.

“I have seen people being hurt or even killed for less,” he said.

After the woman tackled his son, he divorced the two, but the woman then disappeared, said Mr. Harrold said. He had not heard from her yet, he said.

“She definitely owes my son an apology,” he said. ‘I do not expect it, and if it did, fine. If that does not happen, it’s so much bigger than that. This is a story of what should not happen in daily life in America, that’s what it is. ‘

He said he was pulling out of the hotel.