Prominent jazz musician Keyon Harrold says a woman physically assaulted him and his 14-year-old son inside a Manhattan hotel over the weekend after the woman falsely and baselessly accused the teenager of stealing her cellphone, raising racial profiling concerns.
Harrold and his son, who are both Black, were staying at Arlo Hotel in SoHo on Saturday when he filmed the unidentified woman repeatedly lunging at them in the lobby while trying to get the child’s iPhone.
“Take the case off, that’s mine,” the frantic woman is heard saying from behind a man who identifies himself as a manager at the boutique hotel. “Literally, get it back, please. Get it back.”
Harrold, who played the trumpet in the Grammy-award-winning soundtrack to the 2015 film “Miles Ahead,” a Miles Davis biopic, informs the manager that his son does not have to show the woman his phone because he didn’t do anything wrong.
“You don’t have to explain nothing to her,” Harrold tells his son.
When they try to walk away, the woman follows and appears to physically rush at them, sparking an altercation.
“No, I’m not letting him walk away with my phone,” the woman is heard yelling as she trails the father and son down a hallway.
Harrold, in comments to The New York Times, said his phone’s video cut off as the woman tackled his son and tried to search his pockets. The woman was then physically separated from him.
“I am furious!!! We see this crap happening all the time, but it hits different when it hits home!!!” Harrold wrote on Instagram Saturday while sharing the video.
In his interview with the Times, he questioned whether he and his son may have been the victims of racial profiling, though he said he did not know the race of the woman.
“They assumed he was guilty,” Harrold said of his son. “The management didn’t even question her as to why she would even think he had the phone.”
The incident has been likened to other recent incidents of racism, including a white woman calling police on a Black bird watcher in Central Park back in May after he asked her to leash her dog, as the park’s rules require. That woman then falsely accused the man of trying to assault her.
Harrold said he and his son did not receive apologies from the hotel or the woman at the time of the confrontation, who he was told had checked out of the hotel several days earlier.
Hotel officials on Sunday issued a public apology to Harrold and his son on social media for what they said was “baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault against an innocent guest.”
“In investigating the incident further, we’ve learned that the manager on duty promptly called the police regarding the woman’s conduct and that hotel security intervened to prevent further violence; still, more could have been done to deescalate the dispute,” the statement read.
The teen’s mother, fellow musician Katty Rodriguez, dismissed the hotel’s apology on Sunday and claimed that it tried to sweep an extremely traumatic incident for her son under a rug.
“The only reason we decided to go public and post on social media was because the hotel which had a security guard on duty let this young lady leave while waiting for the police to respond after she assaulted my son several times which is not seen on this video because my sons father dropped the phone to protect our son!” Rodriguez’s post read.
In an earlier post, Rodriguez expressed gratitude to Harrold and other Black fathers.
“The most painful feeling today as a parent was to feel helpless in protecting my child against racial hatred,” she wrote.