“She’s not trying to make any racial statement,” Ms. Ghatan said. “She’s a female herself of mixed cultural descent. She’s not some blond-haired, blue eyed privileged white lady. She literally just wanted to get her phone back.”
Ms. Ponsetto was visiting her father who lives in the New York City area over the holidays when she lost her cellphone, Ms. Ghatan said. Ms. Ponsetto was a guest at the hotel at some point during the holiday week, Ms. Ghatan said, but it was not clear why she was there when the confrontation took place.
Ms. Ponsetto saw Keyon Jr. with a phone and thought it was hers, according to Ms. Ghatan.
“What happened, happened,” Ms. Ghatan said. “Would she do it again? No. It was purely out of her being anxious, stressed, cornered, feeling helpless, lost, alone, unsupported.”
She said Ms. Ponsetto works in an office for a health-related company, but declined to be more specific.
“She’s not a celebrity, she’s not a Kardashian,” Ms. Ghatan said. “She doesn’t know how to act, she doesn’t know how to behave. She’s a young girl.”
Mr. Harrold said Ms. Ponsetto’s actions demanded more than an apology. He said that both her behavior and the hotel manager’s actions reflected a systemic problem where Black people — and Black teenagers in particular — are seen as threats or outsiders.
Mr. Harrold described his son as innocent and impressionable — “an aspiring music producer, drummer, artist, who loves being around his friends.” But, he said, he is too often not seen that way. “He’s made out to be criminal. He’s made out to be a threat. That’s the thing that needs to change.”