UPDATED: 10:05 a.m. ET, Jan. 5 —
An online petition to have the police criminally charge a white woman who assaulted and racially profiled a Black teen on the day after Christmas has surpassed its goal of 100,000 signatures, underscoring the calls for her arrest and prosecution. The petition was started by civil rights attorney Ben Crump even before Miya Ponsetto was identified by seemingly everybody but the NYPD as the woman who falsely accused jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his namesake 14-year-old son of stealing her cellphone.
We hit 100K emails to @ManhattanDA with your support!! Thank You!!! But Keyon Harrold's attacker still hasn't been arrested, so we need the petition to keep going. Keep fighting!! https://t.co/yVEOt0xs5h
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) January 5, 2021
“We hope this significant milestone – 100,000 people demanding justice for Keyon – gets the attention of D.A. Vance and prompts him to bring appropriate charges against Ms. Ponsetto, sending the message that Black people are also ‘innocent until proven guilty,’” Crump said in a statement emailed Tuesday morning. “Can you imagine how quickly charges would have been brought if the circumstances were reversed and a Black woman attacked a white child, claiming he had stolen her phone? It’s past time for law enforcement, hotel management, and the like to stop defaulting to the conclusion that a person is likely criminal because the color of their skin is black.”
Ponsetto has avoided any legal repercussions from the incident 10 days ago.
It’s been more than a week since a white woman attacked a Black teen and his father after falsely accusing them of stealing her iPhone in a New York City hotel. However, even with the culprit having been identified by name and place of residence and at least one cable news network tracking her down to conduct an interview live on TV, Miya Ponsetto — also known as SoHo Karen — remained a free woman as of Monday afternoon.
— Kel Li (@weluvlivandfitz) December 31, 2020
Video footage shows her living her unbothered and everyday life as Keyon Harrold Jr., her young victim, is reportedly seeking therapy for the very real trauma Ponsetto inflicted on the 14-year-old.
The developments — or lack thereof — have drawn attention to how and when the NYPD, and American police at large, decide to prioritize for arrests.
To be sure, anyone who has been paying attention knows not only Ponsetto’s name but also where she lives in California and, apparently, even her favorite places to go on coffee runs.
— jayden justice (@jaydenjustice2) January 4, 2021
She even called into CNN last week and incredulously said that she was the one assaulted, not the father and son, despite video evidence to the contrary.
We know she’s 22 years old. We know she used to be a cheerleader. Hell, we even know about her criminal past of public intoxication, driving under the influence of alcohol, driving with a suspended license and unlawful use of a driver’s license. And that was just in the 2020 calendar year alone.
(Not meant to excuse her racist behavior, but anybody want to take a stab at why Ponsetto was out of control that fateful day after Christmas in the lobby of the Arlo Soho hotel, where she was not even a guest at the time? *hiccup* I digress…)
Ponsetto’s even got a court date on Jan. 14 stemming from the DUI, for which she is serving three years of probation.
That means her assault on Harrold Jr. violated the terms of her probation.
That also means that Ponsetto’s contact information — at the very least for her lawyer — is accessible somewhere in the trusty criminal justice system that by now would have made it a point to lock up a Black person suspected of doing way less than separate videos confirm Ponsetto did to Harrold Jr. If CNN, paparazzi and social media sleuths alike can find her, why can’t the NYPD?
Still, there hasn’t been an arrest since it was reported that Ponsetto assaulted both Harrold Jr. and his namesake famous jazz musician father before tackling the teenager over false claims of theft. (Ponsetto’s iPhone was later found in an Uber.)
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison announced Tuesday that the woman could soon be charged with assault, grand larceny or attempted robbery stemming from the incident. That was almost a week ago, though.
“We have a white female, we don’t have her identified yet, or her age, falsely accuse a male black, 14 years of age, for stealing her cellphone,” Harrison said. “Our perpetrator initially started a verbal argument of this accusation and then tried to attack our teenager by grabbing for his phone, grabbing his leg and trying to tackle him. Our victim didn’t suffer any injuries. But his father, who he was with, received slight injuries.”
Harrison spoke too soon, though, as Harrold Jr. is expected to seek therapy to cope with the mental trauma he suffered from the encounter inspired by Ponsetto’s apparent racial profiling.
The teenager’s father told TMZ that the incident has prompted a very negative mental reaction.
“He wonders if he’s good enough to own an iPhone, or whether he’s out of place at a nice hotel” trumpeter Keyon Harrold said. “I have tried to instill dignity in my son. I’m trying to build his ego, because for so long egos of Black men have been shattered.”
For perspective’s sake, in a comparable yet decidedly less violent encounter with a Karen in New York City, it took more than a month for charges to be filed. In that instance, Amy Cooper — who was shown on a viral video racially profiling Black bird watcher Christian Cooper (no relation) on Memorial Day by calling the NYPD and falsely claiming he threatened her — was charged with falsifying a police report.
But the similarities between the Karens ended once Ponsetto decided to employ violence.