Protesters gathered outside a New York hotel in Soho on Saturday afternoon calling for a boycott of the Arlo, the property where a woman dubbed ‘Soho Karen’ falsely accused a black teenager of stealing her cell phone.
The hotel has been accused by the parents of the 14-year-old boy of racial profiling. They claim staff sided with 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto instead of their son who was the victim of the attack.
‘If you are staying in the Arlo Hotel anywhere in the United States, check out,’ protesters said on Saturday.
The incident which happened on December 26 has since received national attention after video of the attack went viral.
Protestors gathered outside of the Arlo Hotel in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City asking for a boycott due to the hotel’s handling of the Kenyon Harrold case who was attacked by Soho Karen, Miya Ponsetto
Kat Rodriguez, Kenyon Jr.’s mother, and other Harrold family members gather outside of the Arlo Hotel in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City
The family of 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. say their son was racially profiled and shown mistrust by hotel staff after being wrongly accused of stealing a phone
Ponsetto was dubbed ‘SoHo Karen’ after she was seen in a video (left) falsely accusing African American jazz artist Keyon Harrold’s son Keyon Jr (right) of stealing her iPhone at the Arlo Hotel on December 26
In the video, Ponsetto could be seen shouting at the teen, Keyon Harrold, Jr., and lunged at him in an attempt to stop him leaving the hotel with what she thought was her cellphone.
Last weekend, Ponsetto was charged with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child.
Her cellphone was ultimately found by an Uber driver and was handed in to the hotel.
Saturday’s protest came after the parents of Harrold Jr.’s publicly accused the hotel staff of improperly handling the situation and say the manager also approached the boy and asked to see the phone.
‘They automatically asked him for the phone. His rights were violated at that moment,’ the boy’s mother Kat Rodriguez said during Saturday’s protest.
‘I say shut down the racism, shut down the profiling. As a patron, you should have the right to simply be,’ dad Keyon Harrold Sr. added.
‘When Arlo SoHo Hotel sided with her and asked my son, a patron of the hotel, to show his phone to the manager, they violated my son’s rights,’ Rodriguez said in a similar vein during a press conference outside the hotel on Monday.
‘Now Arlo, you’ve been real quiet,’ Rodriguez continued. ‘You’ve been real quiet, like they say in my ‘hood in Crown Heights.’
Kat Rodriguez, Kenyon Jr.’s mother has accused the hotel staff of improperly handling the situation
The teen’s family said hotel management not only failed to stop Ponsetto’s tirade but appeared to believe her claims that the boy has taken her phone
Dozens gathered outside the hotel in support of the teenage boy’s family
The Arlo hotel said it was ‘disheartened’ by the December 26 incident and is still investigating
Supporters of the family gathered outside the hotel to protest on Saturday afternoon
Keyon Harrold, Kat Rodriguez, and their representatives carried signs with a list of hotels to boycott for the December 26 incident. This photo is from a press conference on Monday
The NYPD released surveillance footage of Ponsetto tackling Keyon Jr to the ground in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel after she accused him of stealing her iPhone
Ponsetto was charged with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child
‘You don’t know who you’re messing with,’ Rodriguez said. ‘We ain’t playing around. We’re going to boycott Arlo and the other hotels and tell Yelp and other reviewers that this hotel allows racial profiling against African Americans, against people of color.’
It was a view echoed by the family’s lawyer, Benjamin Crump.
‘We want accountability for everybody who allowed this injustice to happen against this child,’ Crump said. ‘We want to make sure that the Arlo Hotel and their parent company understands that individual acts of racism are empowered by institutions like police and corporations like the Quantum Hospitality LLC.’
‘It was guilty until proven innocent,’ he said.
During the same press conference, Reverend Al Sharpton called the hotel ‘the accomplice of hate.’
‘Show you stand against racism by checking out,’ he said during a protest outside the hotel on Monday. ‘Show you stand against racial profiling by checking out. Show you stand against young black boys being criminalized by checking out.’
‘It’s time for national checking out on racism, on bigotry,’ he said. ‘We are tired of checking in and paying for people who disrespect us. It’s checkout time.’
Harrold Sr and Keyon Jr’s mother, Kat Rodriguez, also held a rally in Manhattan for their son in December, alongside civil rights attorney Ben Crump (right) and Rev Al Sharpton (left)
The hotel had already previously apologized in a social media post, released the following statement:
‘We’re deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo Hotel. 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 de-escalate the dispute.
Ponsetto was taken into custody on a warrant from New York on Thursday after a brief car chase with police in California
‘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. We are committed to making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels.’
Last week, Ponsetto apologized for her actions during an interview with CBS This Morning but the family said it fell flat.
‘I don’t feel that that is who I am as a person, I don’t feel like this one mistake does define me,’ Ponsetto said during the interview. ‘But I do sincerely from the bottom of my heart apologize that if I made the son feel as if I assaulted him or if I hurt his feelings or the father’s feelings.’
‘Soho Karen’ Miya Ponsetto has finally offered an apology to the black teen she accused of stealing her phone, but his parents say they don’t find her words to be ‘genuine’ and are calling for a boycott against the Arlo hotel chain
Ponsetto’s former lawyer (right) said she is concerned for her client’s mental health after Ponsetto (left) gave a rambling television interview hours before she was arrested
Soon after the interview, Ponsetto was arrested in her hometown of Piru, California.
She put up a fight and resisted arrest as the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department tried to take her into custody and was extradited to New York.
Her next court appearance in the city is scheduled for March 29th.
It has since been revealed Ponsetto had also arrested in California three times in 2020 although she had never been arrested before last year.
On February 28th 2020 she was arrested for public intoxication after getting into a fight outside a hotel.
The 22-year-old was unapologetic and defiant as she walked through the airport last Sunday afternoon with a drink secured in her hand. She repeated her claim that Keyon Harrold Jr, 14, stole her phone
Ponsetto pictured arriving to her family home in Piru, California after her flight last Sunday
She was charged with driving under the influence on May 29th after someone called police when she was spotted getting into a car while intoxicated. After being pulled over she was found with open containers of alcohol and marijuana in her car and was charged with driving with a suspended license.
In October she was charged with DUI, driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest.
On that occasion she allegedly got into a physical altercation with her mother and then tackled a responding officer to the ground.
Her blood alcohol limit was 0.14, almost twice the legal limit, police said.
Ponsetto has been ordered to stay away from Keyon Jr and must return to New York for her March court date. Pictured leaving the LAX airport last Sunday