The woman accosted Keyon Harrold and his 14-year-old son, who are both Black, shortly after they got off the elevator inside an upscale New York City hotel on Saturday, falsely accusing the teen of stealing her phone.
Harrold’s video, which went viral this weekend, sparked intense criticism of the hotel, which was accused of mishandling the situation and racially discriminating against Harrold and his son.
On Sunday, the Arlo apologized, acknowledging that the manager could have done more to “de-escalate the dispute,” and the New York City Police Department said it is investigating the incident. Police have not identified the woman in the video as of early Monday.
Harrold’s experience is the latest video of alleged racial profiling to go viral, echoing earlier incidents, such as another New York case in May, when a White woman called the police on a Black man who was birdwatching in Central Park after the man asked her to leash her dog.
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Harrold, 40, who has performed with artists including Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Rihanna and Eminem, lives in Queens, but booked a few days at the Arlo in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan in search of artistic inspiration, he told the New York Times.
On Saturday, Harrold and his teenage son went down to the lobby for brunch, Harrold said in an Instagram post. Suddenly, as they walked through the Arlo’s lobby, an unknown woman approached and demanded to see the teen’s phone.
“This is my phone,” he replied.
The woman then angrily insisted that Harrold’s son take off the phone’s case. A hotel manager who got between Harrold and the woman echoed the request.
“You’re not helping,” Harrold told the manager. “What you did is disrespectful.” The manager insisted he was trying to “settle the situation” and “figure out what’s going on here.”
Harrold walked away, telling his son to follow him to the elevator. The woman then grew more agitated, shouting, “Show me the proof!” and then sprinting toward Harrold Jr. just as the video cuts out.
The teen’s mother, Katty Rodriguez, said on Instagram that the woman then “assaulted” Harrold Jr. several times after his father “dropped the phone to protect” him.
“She scratched me; she tackled and grabbed him. He is a child!!!” Harrold posted online.
According to Harrold, the woman was a former hotel guest who had checked out three days before the confrontation. Minutes after the incident, Harrold added, the woman found her phone. In fact, an Uber driver had left it in the lobby for her.
Harrold told the Times that he suspected the woman had racially profiled him and his son, but noted that he was unsure about the woman’s race. The woman never apologized for the “traumatic situation,” he wrote on Instagram. He also criticized the hotel’s manager for appearing to side with her baseless demands.
“He actually empowered her!!!” Harrold wrote on Instagram. “He didn’t even consider the fact we were actually the guests!”
Rodriguez said that the family decided to share the video online because the hotel’s security let the woman leave while the family was waiting for police. Rodriguez added that the hotel did not formally apologize until getting blowback on social media.
“They answered a post on Instagram instead of going to my son and his fathers room which they were still checked in,” Rodriguez wrote.
On Sunday, the Arlo formally apologized and characterized the incident as a “baseless accusation, prejudice, and an assault against an innocent guest.”
“No Arlo guest — or any person — should be subject to this kind of behavior,” the hotel said in a statement. “We are committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels.”
Harrold and his son planned to check out of the hotel, the New York Times reported.
In his Instagram post, the musician said the incident would have lasting effects on his family.
“Now think about the trauma that my son now has to carry, only coming downstairs to have box day brunch with his dad,” he wrote. “... This s--- happens so often. It needs to stop!”