Keyon Harrold is used to making the news for his music, but the St. Louis native and Grammy winning trumpeter this week was in the headlines for something else entirely, as he and his teenage son Keyon Jr. were accosted, falsely accused, and assaulted during an incident at the Arlo Soho hotel in New York City.
The Harrolds, who were staying at the hotel, were confronted this past Saturday in the lobby by a white woman (that neither had ever met or seen before) who accused the younger Harrold of stealing her iPhone. The situation went from bad to worse when a hotel employee seemed to side with the woman, who subsequently escalated from verbal accusations to physical confrontation, reportedly grabbing, shoving, and scratching the Harrolds.
Keyon Harrold was able to record a portion of the incident on video, and after he posted the clip on social media
, the story went viral, getting shared widely online and generating news coverage from the New York Times
, Billboard magazine
and numerous other media outlets.
Even as the woman's iPhone reportedly was returned by an Uber driver in whose vehicle she had left it, the incident has sparked outrage and renewed discussions both online and off about racism and white privilege. New York City mayor Bill DeBlasio was quoted in a New Tork Post story calling the incident an example of racism, plain and simple."
Now, as attempts continue to identify the woman responsible, the Harrolds are being represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who has launched a petition online asking that their attacker be charged with assault.