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‘Random’ Woman Was Caught on Video Falsely Accusing Black Teen of Stealing iPhone at NYC Hotel



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A post shared by Keyon Harrold (@keyonharrold)

A minute-long video released over the weekend by a well-known jazz musician revealed a chaotic and alarming scene. Keyon Harrold said in an Instagram post that a woman at a New York City hotel falsely accused his 14-year-old son of stealing her iPhone. In his account, the missing device just so happened to be returned by an Uber driver.

The incident evoked another recent, NYC-area false accusation against a Black man who was bird watching. Harrold and his son are Black.

In this case, Harrold said “the lady in this video assaulted my 14-year-old son and me as we came down from our room” at the SoHo location of Arlo Hotels. As seen on video, the woman claimed that they had her phone. She attempted to have an Arlo manager help get it.

“That’s mine,” she pointed, asking him to “get it back.”

“Are you kidding me?” Harrold said. “Do you feel like there’s only one iPhone in the world?”

“No,” said the woman, who is unidentified. “Then show me the–”

“Get a life,” said Harrold.

That’s pretty much as calm and collected as the scene got. The musician told the woman to use the “Find My” app to locate the device, but she said it was off.

Harrold also took the Arlo manager to task, saying the man was taking the woman’s side.

“Didn’t you see me just come downstairs out of the fucking elevator,” he said.

The manager said he was trying to help.

“No, but you’re not helping,” Harrold said. “What you’re being is disrespectful.”

The woman demanded proof, and insisted “he” (perhaps the teen) not leave. Footage ends with Harrold apparently walking away. She rushed them.

“I’m not letting him walk away with my phone!” she said, before ending the video on the ground.

Harrold said that the incident happened for five more minutes, in which the woman scratched him, and tackled and grabbed his son. From his post:

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. 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! Now think about the trauma that my son now has to carry, only coming downstairs to have box day brunch with his dad. Then… her phone was magically returned by an Uber driver a few minutes after this incident. No apology from her after this traumatic situation to my son, not me. No apologies from the establishment.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” the business said in an Instagram post on Sunday. They assert the manager on duty “promptly” called cops about the woman’s behavior, and that hotel security intervened. They acknowledge “more could have been done to deescalate the dispute.”

“No Arlo guest — or any person — should be subject to this kind of behavior,” they said.

The company voiced an apology addressed to Harrold and his son, and said it reached out to them.

In a post released after the Arlo statement, the 14-year-old’s mother, musician Katty Rodriguez, said that the family only decided to go public because a security guard let the woman go after she assaulted the teen. (That was not seen on video because Harrold dropped his phone while protecting the teen, according to Rodriguez.) She said that the hotel had been basically sweeping this under the rug after the incident with a “sorry this happened to you,” and that the company only publicly spoke about it because of pressure on social media.

The woman in the video remains unidentified.

“We are hurt and saddened but we are not people who want anyone to be falsely accused or want to ruin someone’s life,” Rodriguez wrote. “Let’s be mindful and spread love through this hatefulness. We will share the guilty party when we properly ID them. Until then, please do to others as you would want them to do to you.”

[Screengrab via Keyon Harrold]

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