Lucky Black Folks Enjoy One Last Karen Encounter For 2020!
This weekend, jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his 14-year-old son were minding their own business when .... well, they're Black so you can probably guess where this is going. They were staying at the Arlo, a boutique hotel in New York's SoHo neighborhood, and had walked into the lobby when some mad woman accosted Harrold's son and accused him of stealing her cell phone. They'd never laid eyes on this person before.
The woman kept yelling at this kid and insisting he had her phone. (He did not have her phone.) Harrold is uncertain of the woman's race because she was wearing a mask, but Candace Owens isn't this white no matter how hard she tries. Harrold recorded the encounter with this racist loon, as every Black person will do at some point in our lives.
Harrold is rightly furious that the hotel manager intervened on behalf of the shouting woman and not the guest of the hotel who was doing nothing wrong. The manager reverted to Jim Crow etiquette and asked the child to show his phone to the random stranger. A Black child's body isn't a lost and found.
From the New York Times:
In Mr. Harrold's video, the hotel manager can be seen identifying himself and asking the son to produce a cellphone, in an apparent attempt to verify the woman's claim. But the manager had no reason to believe the woman, Mr. Harrold said.
"They assumed he was guilty," Mr. Harrold said. "The management didn't even question her as to why she would even think he had the phone."
After shouting that she wasn't going to let Harrold's son leave the hotel “with her phone" (it was not her phone), the woman eventually tackled the child and tried to go through his pockets, which is straight-up assault and attempted robbery. The kid didn't have her phone, and it turns out that she'd actually left the damn thing in an Uber, which is a more common place to lose your phone. Few people misplace their phones in the pockets of Black kids they've never met. This wasn't a magic act.
Further evidence that the woman was white is that she attacked a 14-year-old stranger in an hotel lobby, felt him up before being separated, and was allowed to go on her way. She wasn't arrested immediately at the scene for her unprovoked stop-and-frisk. She even returned to the hotel later to pick up her phone. This is presumably part of the “boutique" experience the Arlo offers its (white) guests: In addition to a weird animal head on the exposed brick wall of your room, you can also wrestle Black kids in the lobby, at least without TOO much interference!
The manager did call the police to report the incident, and while the cops might've been annoyed that she hadn't delegated roughing up a Black teen to the professionals, they didn't seem to do anything law enforcement-related. Maybe they were afraid she'd cry. At least they didn't shoot or choke out the Black kid. The police and the hotel also helped cover for the woman and wouldn't release her name to Harrold, whose son she'd physically assaulted. (She'd also scratched Harrold when he tried to pull her off his son.)
Nonetheless, the Arlo feels just terrible about the bad publicity, we mean disturbing incident.
"We're deeply disheartened about the recent incident of baseless accusation, prejudice and assault against an innocent guest of Arlo hotel," the hotel said, adding that it was committed to "making sure this never happens again at any of our hotels."
Sounds like Arlo employees can look forward to rigorous diversity training where they learn that Black people are innocent until proven guilty because we're theoretically citizens. It also doesn't enhance our experience in the hotel if management stands by while people jump us in the lobby. That won't result in a positive TripAdvisor review.
Official statement by @BenCrumpLaw and @keyonharrold: https://t.co/QPa21T6UPP— Ben Crump (@Ben Crump)1609181778.0
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is representing the Harrold family and is demanding that charges are filed against the woman. I appreciate that Harrold isn't playing that “turn the other cheek" mess. You fuck with my kid, you're going down.
The woman has yet to apologize to Harrold or his son, and she likely never will unless it looks like she might face accountability for her gross actions. Then she'll release a weepy statement about how not-racist she is.
We've heard it all before.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).