‘Soho Karen’ Arrested for Attack on Black Teen

Miya Ponsetto charged with attempted assault and robbery following extradition back to New York.

08 Jan 2021 | 05:05

Miya Ponsetto – infamously dubbed “Soho Karen” – was charged over the weekend with attempted assault following her alleged attack on a Black teenage boy, whom she had falsely accused of stealing her iPhone, in the lobby of Soho’s Arlo Hotel in December. Ponsetto has been the subject of national headlines and online ire after a video capturing the incident went viral, becoming the latest example of racial profiling and false accusations targeting a Black person.

Following her arrest, Ponsetto, a 22-year-old white woman from California, was extradited back to New York Saturday, where she was also charged with attempted robbery, endangering the welfare of a child, and grand larceny in the fourth degree. Ponsetto was granted supervised release and is already back in California. She is due back in court on March 29.

Ponsetto could face an additional charge in California for resisting officers from the Ventura County Sherriff’s Office and the NYPD at a traffic story near Los Angeles last Thursday. According to booking documents, she had to be “forcibly removed” from the vehicle and, as reported by the Associated Press, tried to slam a car door on one of the deputies.

On the same day of her arrest, Ponsetto gave an interview to Gayle King, parts of which aired Friday on CBS This Morning, in which she became increasingly indignant when asked to explain her actions. At first, Ponsetto – who donned a black baseball cap with the word “Daddy” – apologized and said she could have handled it differently. Seemingly unaware of the racial and power dynamics at play, Ponsetto claimed she didn’t target Keyon Harrold Jr., the teenager she had accused of theft, but that she was asking people who were exiting the lobby of the hotel if they had taken her phone.

“I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel some sort of inferior in some way or make him feel like I was hurting his feelings because that was not my intention,” said Ponsetto, who was joined by her attorney, Sharen Ghatan. “I consider myself to be super sweet. I really never, never meant for it to hurt him or his father either.”

Harrold’s father, who is also named Keyon, is a jazz musician in the city and had posted the video of the incident that subsequently went viral.

King, however, continued to confront Ponsetto with her actions, calling Ponsetto’s behavior “extreme.”

“How would you feel if you were alone in New York and you’re going to spend time with your family during the holidays and you lose the one thing that gets stolen from you that has all the access, the only way that you’re able to get back home?” Ponsetto replied.

“Can We Move On?”

Referencing hotel surveillance footage showing Ponsetto trying to tackle Harrold to the ground, King asked Ponsetto why she seemed to physically assault Harrold for something he did not do.

“The footage shows me attacking his son. Attacking him how? Yelling at him? Yes,” she said, without mentioning the physical assault. “OK, I apologize, can we move on?”

Ponsetto accused Harrold’s father of slamming her to the ground and pulling her hair, to which King pointed out that she had just assaulted his son. From here, Ponsetto became more agitated and flustered.

“Basically, I am a 22-year-old girl,” she added. “I don’t ... racism is ... how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime? Where is the context in that? What is the deeper story here?”

“You’re 22 years old, but you are old enough to know better,” King replied.

Attempting to cut King off, Ponsetto raised her hand and gestured dismissively, saying, “Enough.” At this time, her lawyer seemed to turn to Ponsetto and whisper, “Stop it.”

“The hotel did end up having my phone, I did end up getting my belongings returned to me,” she said, though according to various reports, Ponsetto’s phone had been returned by an Uber driver.

In a statement, the Harrold family told CBS, “This is not about an apology from someone who until a few days ago was claiming she did nothing wrong, and in fact alleged Keyon Harrold Sr. had assaulted her. Someone who targeted a 14-year-old Black child because of the color of his skin. What it is about is significant, societal change. It’s about a system that condones and emboldens racial profiling and considers Black people guilty until proven innocent.”

“You’re 22 years old, but you are old enough to know better.” Gayle King on CBS This Morning