May 16, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Parents of teen attacked in ‘SoHo Karen’ case don’t accept apology

The parents of Keyon Harrold Jr. are speaking out after Miya Ponsetto, the so-called SoHo Karen, apologized in a recent interview with Gayle King for attacking their son.

“I feel like her apology was as genuine as when she shushed you,” jazz musician Keyon Harrold Sr. told King — referring to a controversial moment during her interview with Ponsetto, who at one point raised her hand and said, “Enough.”

“It said a lot,” Harrold Sr. added. “I have an issue with the idea of entitlement versus character. It’s all been tragically consistent. I’ll just say that.”

Harrold Sr. and Kat Rodriguez opened up to King in an interview that aired Monday on “CBS This Morning,” along with the second part of King’s chat with Ponsetto. During their discussion, Harrold Sr. said he was “happy” Ponsetto was arrested last week after she was caught on video tackling and falsely accusing his 14-year-old son of stealing her phone in a New York hotel.

Ponsetto, 22, a California native, was charged with four felonies related to the incident: attempted robbery, endangering the welfare of a child, attempted grand larceny and attempted assault.

“That’s only the first step in a very big conversation that needs to happen here in America that has to do with racial profiling,” Harrold Sr. told King. “If I had done that — what Miya Ponsetto had done to my son — I’d be in jail now.

“If I had hurt her in any way, I’d be in jail now. We wouldn’t even be able to have this conversation. As a Black man, every day I walk outside, I have to play the perfect game — almost like doing a no-hitter — just to be believed.”

In the second part of her conversation with King, Ponsetto claimed she “wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever” by targeting Harrold Jr. and argued she is incapable of being racist because she is Puerto Rican and “a woman of color” — a statement with which King disagreed.

“No one has to say the N-word for something to be an act of racism,” Harrold Sr. told King, adding that he is “still in shock” from the encounter.

“I work as hard as I possibly can just to put my son in the best scenarios to give him a chance to win — to give him a chance to be a whole young man, a whole young boy — Black boy. … To be in our beloved New York City and this happened — I’m appalled.”

Harrold Sr. also addressed Ponsetto’s accusation that he assaulted her after she attacked his son.

“Pushing her away to protect my son? Yes,” Harrold Sr. said. “I’m a man who don’t believe in hurting women. … I do believe in protecting my son, so that is what I did.”

In the aftermath of the incident, Rodriguez said her son “tensed up” when she attempted to hug him and asked her “not to do that.” She also criticized the staff of New York City’s Arlo Hotel for failing to de-escalate the situation and keep Harrold Jr. safe.

“He keeps on asking the question, ‘Why?’” Rodriguez said. “‘Why me, Mom? You know I wouldn’t steal anything. I didn’t know her. Why?’ As a mother, to have to answer that question?”

During the latter part of King’s interview with Ponsetto last week, Ponsetto, who’s from Piru in Ventura County, got frustrated with King while challenging the Arlo’s account that her phone was returned by an Uber driver and claiming that she, too, was “traumatized” by the incident. She also suggested, without evidence, that Harrold Jr. might have taken her phone after all.

“I did get my belongings returned to me, so maybe it wasn’t him,” Ponsetto said. “But at the same time, how is it … that all of a sudden, they just miraculously have my phone when I come back? … It didn’t seem as if my accusations really bothered the son and the father because they were just enjoying a nice meal right after this whole encounter.”

As King began to push back on Ponsetto’s insinuations — stating that she had no business assuming how her actions might have affected the Harrolds — Ponsetto continued to speak over King and push her own narrative.

“Miya, to be honest … you seem to be not remorseful, to have no contrition — that you’re almost a little flippant about this,” King said later. “You have to understand that for this teenage boy, who says that he was shattered — who said that he was traumatized — this is a big deal.”

“He’s 14? That’s what they’re claiming?” Ponsetto said. “I’m 22. I’ve lived probably just the same amount of life as him — like, honestly. I’m just as a kid at heart as he is. I feel sorry that I made the family go through, like, all of that stress, but at the same time, it wasn’t just them going through that.”

After the remainder of their conversation debuted, King said that Ponsetto’s attorney attempted to prepare her client for her “CBS This Morning” appearance, but Ponsetto went off script and ignored her advice. In the video, her lawyer briefly attempts to make the case that Ponsetto was in an unstable mental state as a young woman “alone in New York” without her phone.

“The attorney worked very, very hard to try to guide her client during the interview and … I think it’s hard when you have a client that doesn’t pay attention to what you’re saying,” King remarked to her co-anchors. “I’m not sure Miya really understands the gravity of the situation yet.”