MANHATTAN — Civil rights icon and activist Rev. Al Sharpton is calling on the New York Police Department to publicly identify and charge a woman who confronted and allegedly attacked a Black teen and his father at a Manhattan hotel.
"There is clearly no reason to treat her any differently... then any number of Blacks that are accused of a crime, or others in this city" Sharpton told the WPIX on Wednesday.
Police said Tuesday they had identified the woman and were looking for her, but didn't release her name.
The woman is accused of pushing and grabbing 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. after falsely accusing him of stealing her cellphone at SoHo's Arlo Hotel on Sunday, officials said. His 40-year-old father, Keyon Harrold, suffered scratches to his hand during the incident.
Police sources said the woman's phone had actually been left in an Uber and was returned the same day.
While the NYPD confirmed they were looking into multiple charges against the woman, they said it was not being investigated as a bias incident.
Sharpton said it should be looked into as a potential hate crime. "You must assume since there are other people in the lobby – then why did she pinpoint this young man?" he said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called what happened "racism" and even the hotel said in a statement it was an incident of "baseless accusation, prejudice, and assault."
Watch PIX11's Rebecca Solomon's report on the story:
"Thank God his father was there," Sharpton said. "He might have been handcuffed and treated any kind of way."
Sharpton said the reason the story has evoked such a strong reaction in New York and beyond is because it is sadly all too familiar for many Black families.
"When we see this young man, that could have been any of our kids, and any of the circumstances could have led to something that would have been physically damming and legally damaging," he said.
Sharpton is set to appear at a rally Wednesday against racial profiling and demanding justice for the teen.
This story was first published by Vanessa Freeman, Betty Nguyen, and Veronica Rosario at WPIX in New York, New York.