The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr., the Black 14-year-old accused of stealing an iPhone belonging to Miya Ponsetto in the lobby of New York City’s Arlo Soho hotel, have issued a statement in response to her recent apology and legal explanation for her violent behavior.
A Dec. 26 video of Ponsetto, renamed “SoHo Karen,” went viral after she was seen in the lobby of the hotel physically attacking and screaming at the teen. She can also be seen demanding the hotel manager give her the cell phone. It was later determined that Ponsetto left her phone in an Uber she had taken earlier that day.
Keyon Harrold Sr. and Kat Rodriguez do not believe the claims that Ponsetto has any remorse over the attack on their son or in her desire to issue a public apology. They have issued the following statement:
“This is not about an apology from someone who until a few days ago was claiming she did nothing wrong, and in fact alleged Keyon Harrold Sr. had assaulted her. Someone who targeted a 14-year-old Black child because of the color of his skin. What it is about is significant, societal change. It’s about a system that condones and emboldens racial profiling and considers Black people guilty until proven innocent. A system that exists and thrives because of institutions like the Arlo Hotel who enables the disturbing behavior of people like Miya Ponsetto, and instead of stopping the racist attack on our son, threw gasoline on the fire.
“Miya will be dealt with by law enforcement, and hopefully be charged with the assault of our child. We are not interested in what she has to say, in her feigning remorse, and we certainly will not provide her a public platform and audience to do as much. Our energy right now is directed at the healing of our son, and in bringing attention to the larger societal issues that led to the disgusting physical and verbal attack that continues to traumatize our family.
“This never should have happened. But the fact of the matter is, it did. We pray it is not in vain and brings us one step closer to living in a world where a 14-year-old Black child can enjoy brunch with his father without the threat of being profiled, targeted, falsely accused, and physically attacked.”
A Suspicious Defense
After nearly two weeks of backlash, Ponsetto issued an apology on Jan. 6 through her attorney Sharen Ghatan for accusing Harrold Jr. of stealing her phone. Ghatan told the New York Daily News, “It’s horrible, what happened. She certainly should not have done that. She has some things she has to work through with herself, control issues, anger management issues. Of course, she knows that.”
Ghatan also said Ponsetto maintains the attack was not racially motivated, “She saw what she thought was her phone in another person’s hands. It could have been any person’s hands. It wasn’t a racial thing. She got anxious, she got triggered, and she lost her sense of rationale.”
Ghatan continued, “She lost her phone, and she lost her mind. Obviously, it was ill-advised. She wouldn’t do it again. This is certainly not racially motivated. She’s devastated about that interpretation.”
Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump is also putting the focus on the systemic racism displayed by the hotel manager, who seemingly took Ponsetto’s side even though the Harrolds were guests.
“Individual acts of racism are given power by government agents like police and corporations like Quadrum Hospitality Group, LLC, that own Arlo Hotel, that ratify and proliferate structural racism,” said Crump in a statement.
“We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel,” the hotel said in a statement.
The New York Daily News reports that two NYPD detectives are flying to California to make contact with Ponsetto. It’s possible she will soon face criminal charges in New York.
Watch the original video below: