Hotel confrontation involving Black teen under investigation

NEW YORK (AP) — A confrontation in which a man said a woman tackled his 14-year-old Black son in a New York City hotel lobby as she falsely accused the teen of stealing her phone is under investigation, city prosecutors said Monday.

Keyon Harrold, a prominent jazz trumpeter, posted a widely viewed video of the confrontation Saturday at the Arlo Hotel. He said the unidentified woman scratched him and tackled and grabbed his son, Keyon Harrold Jr., at the lower Manhattan hotel where the pair were staying.

The video shows an agitated woman demanding her phone be returned while a hotel manager tries to settle the situation. At one point, the woman appears to rush forward and says, “I’m not letting him walk away with my phone!”

Harrold said the phone was returned by an Uber driver shortly afterward.

The confrontation prompted comparisons to recent incidents involving false accusations against Black people. In May, a Black birdwatcher pulled out his phone in Central Park in May and captured a white woman calling police to report she was being threatened by “an African-American man.”

The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr. and civil rights attorney Ben Crump issued a statement Monday, calling on the Manhattan district attorney to bring assault and battery charges against the woman “to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behavior is unacceptable.”

“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,” read the statement.

Crump and the Harrold family also called for a civil rights investigation into the Arlo Hotel “for its implicit bias” in its treatment of the teen.

New York City police did not identify the woman, saying only that there was a harassment complaint on file for an incident Saturday inside the hotel. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance said the office is “thoroughly investigating this incident” but did not elaborate.

Hotel management said in a posting Sunday they reached out to Harrold and his son to apologize.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” they said in a Facebook post.

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