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SoHo Hotel Confrontation: Parents Of Keyon Harrold Jr. Speak Out Against Racism After Woman In Viral Video Charged; 'Racial Profiling... It's Real'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The parents of a Black teenager who was attacked and falsely accused of stealing a cellphone spoke out Monday.

They want more done to combat racial injustice in New York and around the country, CBS2's Kiran Dhillon reported.

"I can't hug him from the back without him cringing," said Kat Rodriguez about her son. "He actually asked me not to affectionately touch his back or shoulders."

Keyon Harrold Jr.'s parents say they continue to relive the attack against their son. They're relieved the woman they say is responsible has been charged after calling for her arrest for weeks.

It's only the first step, they say.

"This racial profiling thing, it's real," said Keyon Harrold Sr. "You don't have to say the 'N' word to act in a racist way."

"The Arlo [Hotel] looked right over my son," he continued.

MORE: SoHo Hotel Confrontation: Miya Ponsetto, California Woman Who Falsely Accused Black Teen Of Stealing Cellphone, In Custody In New York City

The charges stem from the December incident during which surveillance video appears to show Miya Ponsetto, 22, confronting 14-year-old Keyon and his father in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in SoHo.

Ponsetto appears to falsely accuse Keyon of stealing her phone before tackling him.

The manager of the hotel approached the teen and asked to see the phone. But Keyon never had it.

The family is now asking for people to boycott the business and its parent company unless they put an end to what they call racial profiling.

"Arlo Hotel is just as responsible as this 'SoHo Karen' and we're going to check out if they don't step up," said attorney Ben Crump.

The Arlo Hotel has apologized for the incident and said the manager called police regarding Ponsetto's conduct.

Ponsetto was arrested in Ventura County, California and is now facing multiple charges including attempted robbery and attempted assault. She was extradited back to New York City over the weekend.

Hours before her arrest, Ponsetto and her attorney sat down for an exclusive interview with Gayle King of "CBS This Morning."

"I wasn't racial profiling whatsoever. I am a woman. I'm Puerto Rican. I'm like, a woman of color," Ponsetto told King.

Ponsetto argues her actions were not racially charged.

"I'm sincerely sorry to the family and the dad and the son for making them feel as if I was racist towards them," Ponsetto said.

Ponsetto's attorney says her client appears to be emotionally unwell.

MORE: SoHo Hotel Confrontation: Miya Ponsetto Arrested In California After Falsely Accusing Black Teen Of Stealing Cellphone

Keyon's parents say the issue is part of a larger conversation about racism in America.

"These little microcosms, they can expand and they can do big damage and we've seen it over and over, people wrongly accused," said Harrold Sr.

"This is the reality of mothers of Black children in America," said Rodriguez. "Everyday we must face the reality that a simple instance of mistaken identity or a misunderstanding can end in tragedy."

"The outcome could have been [Keyon] in a casket," she continued.

Keyon's parents say he is in therapy and remains confused as to why this happened to him.

They are asking for the incident to be deemed a hate crime.


CBS2's Kiran Dhillon contributed to this report.


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