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A 22-year-old woman who attacked a Black 14-year-old in a hotel for allegedly stealing her phone is facing hate crime charges.
In December 2020, jazz musician Keyon Harrold and his 14-year-old Keyon Jr. were staying at the Arlo Soho Hotel in New York. When Keyon Jr. went to leave the establishment, Miya Ponsetto accused him of stealing her phone before attacking him.
It turned out that Ponsetto’s phone was later returned by an Uber driver, and she had no reason to attack the teenager.
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On the back of the viral incident, in a disastrous CBS interview Ponsetto claimed she was ‘traumatised’ by what happened just as much as the 14-year-old. She also added that her attack couldn’t be racially motivated because she is Puerto Rican as well as Italian and Greek.
Despite these claims, the attacker has been charged with two felony counts of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree as a hate crime as well as two misdemeanour counts of aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Since the incident, the Harold family had been pushing for Ponsetto to be charged with a hate crime. The family are also suing the hotel because of alleged racial profiling during the incident.
Family attorney Ben Crump highlighted how lucky it was that Keyon’s father was there at the time of the incident. He then talked about the significance of the charges being pressed:
[This case is] Setting a legal precedent that we will go after Asian hate crime, Black hate crime, and you don’t have to beat somebody up in order to establish hate. Hate is in the action.
In response to the charges, Ponsetto’s attorney Paul D’Emilia told TMZ:
The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system.
Instead of helping to foster a civil and enlightened resolution to an unfortunate incident between two young people, DA Vance chose a craven and opportunistic path in indicting, with felony hate crime charges.
Ponsetto still denies racially profiling Harold Jr and is due back in court in October.
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