Attorney for Black teen ‘attacked’ in hotel lobby over theft allegation calls for charges

Greg Nash

Ben Crump, the civil rights activist and attorney representing 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., called for assault and battery charges to be brought against the woman who “attacked” the teenager after falsely accusing him of stealing her phone.

“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,” Crump said in a statement shared on Twitter. 

“Compounding the injustice, the hotel manager defaulted to calling on 14-year-old Keyon to prove his innocence, documenting that we have two justice systems in American and that Black people are treated as guilty until proven innocent,” he added. “We strongly urge Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. to bring assault and battery charges against this woman to send the message that hateful, racially motivated behavior is unacceptable.”

Crump also called for a “civil rights investigation” into the Arlo Hotel where Harrold and his family were staying when the incident occurred.

A spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the Manhattan district attorney’s office “is thoroughly investigating this incident.”

In a now-viral video shared over the weekend by Harrold’s father, renowned jazz musician Keyon Harrold, a woman is seen standing behind the manager of the Arlo Hotel where Harrold and his family were staying. She points at Harrold Jr. and accuses him of stealing her phone. Both Harrold and his father are Black.

In his Instagram post, the older Harrold said the woman scratched him and grabbed at and tackled his son. The woman’s phone was reportedly returned just minutes after the incident by an Uber driver.

Harrold Sr. later reported the incident to the police, who have opened an investigation into the incident.

Arlo Hotels said in a statement shared on Instagram that they, too, are investigating what happened.

“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel,” the hotel said. “No Arlo guest — or any person — should be subject to this kind of behavior. We want to apologize to Mr. Harrold and his son for this inexcusable experience and have reached out to them directly to express our sincere regret and to offer help in dealing with this traumatic event.”

—Updated at 1:22 p.m.

Tags Anti-black racism in the United States Ben Crump False accusation kenyon harrold prejudice Racism

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