Angry Orchard farm in Walden, New York has come under fire by a couple who claims they were racially targeted, harassed and accused of stealing by staffers.
Cathy-Marie Hamlet said her fiancé was in the middle of proposing when he was interrupted by security who suspected them of stealing a shirt from the gift shop.
Hamlet and her fiancé, Clyde Jackson, and six friends drove from New York City to the Angry Orchard farm on Sunday to celebrate Jackson’s 40th birthday. The festive mood was soured when a female security guard approached them and asked to check Clyde’s back pocket, MSN reports.
“My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight,” Hamlet said. “She then walked away, and my boyfriend and I sat down at the table and he began his proposal speech.”
While sitting outside the gift shop, the couple was interrupted again mid-way through the proposal.
“She came back over to us and said, ‘Now I need to search your purse,’” Hamlet said. “My bag was small and I couldn’t have fit a T-shirt in it, but I emptied the contents of my purse anyway.”
After the second interruption, Hamlet questioned the security guard’s motives.
“I told her that I knew she was just doing her job, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she kept coming up to us because we’re black,” Hamlet said. “We were the only black people there, besides three of the friends who came along with us.”
The security guard denied race was a factor and left the couple alone once her search for the T-shirt turned up empty. But she approached the couple a third time, immediately after Marie accepted Jackson’s proposal and their friends gathered to celebrate, the report states.
“She said, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were all part of the same party. I have to check all of your purses and pockets,’” Hamlet said. “At this point, five other security guards came over.”
“I felt humiliated, especially after one of my white friends made a point of asking them to check her bag for the T-shirt, but they refused to do so,” Hamlet said.
When one of the security guards instructed another to call the police, the group decided to leave.
“It started to get confrontational and I wasn’t interested in waiting around for the police because we didn’t know what would happen,” Hamlet told NBC News.
The racist security guards took pictures of the group and her license plate as they left.
Taylor Roy, a senior communications specialist at Boston Beer Company, which owns Angry Orchards, said the company reached out to the couple “to try to make things right and prevent something like this from happening again.”
He said the incident was “based on what the security guards thought was a credible claim,” but noted that “it was mishandled.”
Hamlet addressed Angry Orchard directly in a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday, writing, “if you don’t want black people buying your product or frequenting your establishment, then maybe put a sign on the door so that we know we are not welcome. I love hard cider, but Angry Orchard will never touch these lips again.”
She added, “I feel confused and conflicted over what to do now and how to move forward, that one of the happiest moments of my life could be partially overshadowed like this. It’s sad that in 2019 we still need to have these conversations.”
You can read Hamlet’s full Facebook post above.