Puerto Rican Woman Rejects Hate Crime Charge Over Incident With Black Teen, Says She's a 'Woman of Color'

(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

What’s a hate crime?

It’s one in which the races of the perpetrator and victim are different and…what else?

Whatever it may be said to effectively be, a 22-year-old’s been accused of one.

As reported by CBS/The Associated Press, Miya Ponsetto was at New York City’s Arlo Hotel in December when she confronted 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr.

As captured on video, eventually, Keyon tried to walk away.

Miya tackled him.

And why? She believed he’d stolen her iPhone.

Miya’s device was later found in an Uber car.

And in a Manhattan court last week, the Piru, California resident pleaded not guilty to aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

But there’s more at issue.

Miya was charged with unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime.

And Keyon’s family has sued Miya and the hotel, claiming racial profiling.

But in an interview with CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King, the girl seemed to suggest she couldn’t be guilty of such a thing — she isn’t even white.

“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever. I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of color.”

But Keyon Harrold Sr. is upset — he asserted to Gayle Miya being put in cuffs is “only the first step in a very big conversation that needs to happen here in America that has to do with racial profiling.”

According to the musician, had roles been reversed, he wouldn’t even be able to talk to Gayle about it. Black men are forced to be beyond reproach:

“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 throwing a no-hitter, just to be believed.”

The case appears as a good indication of where we are — in a variety of ways.

So far as I can tell, very little conflict can occur these days without race entering the conversation.

We’re a nation divided, and we’re dividing ourselves.

As for racism, Keyon Sr. said, “No one has to say the ‘N’ word for something to be” an act of it.

“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. … And to be in our beloved New York City and this happened, I’m appalled.”

Both he and his wife work — Keyon’s mother is a singer and saxophonist for Beyoncé while dad is a Grammy-winning trumpeter.

In the scuffle, Keyon Sr. — in his words — “pushed [Miya] away” to “protect [his] son.”

She apologized during her talk with Gayle, but he’s unimpressed:

“I feel like her apology is as genuine as when she shushed you. It said a lot.”

See for yourself:

Keyon Jr.’s mom doesn’t want to worry him with the realities of the world:

“He keeps on asking the question why — like, ‘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…”

Keyon Sr. drew comparisons:

“It’s tough to look into [Miya] being arrested more than what it is because the person who killed Trayvon Marton is free. The person who blamed [1955 murder victim, 14-year-old Emmet Till] is still alive. Things could’ve gone another way.”

So what does justice look like?

“I think the idea of justice, just like the idea of the apology, is so much more than saying ‘I’m sorry.’ Because people can say ‘I’m sorry’ and it’s empty. Justice has to do with change.”

Change may be ongoing: Keyon Harrold, Jr. is now in therapy due to the ordeal.

Miya’s attorney, Paula D’Emilia, initially claimed, the charges were “a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system.”

However, since the interview with Gayle, Paula’s referred to her client as possibly “mentally unstable” and said that “makes it difficult…to move forward.”

Miya told CBS This Morning she “considers [herself] to be super sweet.”

Her next court date is October 20th.

Again — effectively, what’s a hate crime? It’s definitely a crime in which different races are involved. But what else? What must be present for such an allegation to be made?

As we continue to fragment as a society, I expect the charge will become increasingly familiar.

And, perhaps, increasingly controversial.

-ALEX

 

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