Fierce

A Black Woman Are Her Fiancé Had Their Proposal Interrupted By White Employees Accusing Them Of Stealing From The Gift Shop

Another day, another case of racial profiling that is shocking enough to make headlines. Along with barbecuing in public and selling tacos out of a taco truck, now people of color can add proposing to their partners on the list of things they can’t do without having the cops called on them. 

On a day that should’ve lived in a woman’s memory as one of the happiest days of her life, it ended up being memorable for a completely opposite reason*. According to a Facebook post by 35-year-old Dr. Cathy-Marie Hamlet, she and her boyfriend, Clyde Jackson, visited the Angry Orchard Farm this weekend to celebrate Jackson’s 40th birthday and “enjoy an afternoon with some hard cider” along with their group of friends. Dr. Hamlet didn’t know it at the time, but her boyfriend was secretly planning on proposing to her and had brought an engagement ring with him in order to pop the question. 

While the day started out promising, things quickly went south. 

After the couple settled in on an empty lawn table, an Angry Orchard security guard approached the couple and asked Jackson to empty his pockets because he was suspecting of stealing a “T-shirt from the gift store.”

https://www.facebook.com/marie.cleone/posts/10101080599577094?comment_tracking=%7B

Jackson complied with the request and emptied his pockets, proving that he had had no stolen merchandise on him, and the security guard left. Hamlet and Jackson then returned to their table and Jackson began to propose to his girlfriend. It is then when the “same young lady from security” returned to the couple asked to check Dr. Hamlet’s purse. Dr. Hamlet emptied her purse to further prove they hadn’t stolen anything. According to Dr. Hamlet, believing she was being racially profiled, she said to the security guard: “I know you’re just doing your job, but I can’t help but wonder if this is because we’re Black. We’re the only Black people here at your establishment”, and the security guard assured her it was not before leaving. It is then that Jackson was finally able to propose to his girlfriend, to which she accepted.

In the midst of celebrating the new engagement, the same security guard approached the (majority black) group again and asked everyone to empty their pockets.

It’s at this point when security began to become aggressive, shouting at the group, telling them that multiple witnesses saw the couple steal the t-shirt even when Hamlet asked them to review the security camera footage to prove that they did not such thing. What is further shocking is that the security team refused to search the pockets of the couple’s white friend, and focused instead on targeting the black patrons. In the end, the group left to avoid being “attacked by the multiple security guards of Angry Orchard”.

As for Dr. Hamlet, the incident left her rattled and upset. “On what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life”, she said, “I was chased out of Angry Orchard by security who followed us all the way to the parking lot”.

Since posting, Hamlet’s Facebook post has garnered over 6,000 shares and almost 5,000 comments.

Unfortunately, this couple’s story just seemed to further prove what many people of color in the U.S. already know: that implicit bias is a dangerous and widespread phenomenon, affecting people’s judgment without even knowing. Not only that, but it has real and lasting effects on people’s lives. The story of Hamlet and her fiance’s engagement will forever be marred by the racism of these employees.

After the story went viral, Angry Orchard released a public apology to the couple. 

Angry Orchard stated that they had “launched an investigation” into the incident that occurred and had since “replaced” both the security team and the manager on duty at the time. They went on to say that they are “initiating additional, mandatory training on security awareness and unconscious bias” for their staff in order to “prevent something like this from happening in the future”. They ended their statement saying that the event “does not reflect our company values of respect for all and creating a welcoming environment for our guests” and that they are “treating this moment as a valuable learning experience for our staff”.

Latinas flocked to the post to express anger, frustration, and disgust at the way the employees of the Angry Orchard Farm went about trying to find the alleged thief.

This Latina summed it up perfectly: the actions of the security team were not only racist but they inhumane–they didn’t seem to care at all that this couple was experiencing a life-changing, joyful event.

This Latina had some problems with the wording of Angry Orchard’s apology

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: it shouldn’t be the responsibility of POC to “teach” non-POC about the dangerous consequences of racism.

This Latina didn’t buy Angry Orchard’s public apology:

It’s true that many companies insist that they’re working on the problems of structural racism within their organizations, but ultimately, do nothing substantial to fix their employees’ behavior.

This Latina made a great point on how petty and unprofessional the employees were acting over the hypothetical theft of a $28 t-shirt.

Even if the couple did steal the shirt, having six security guards aggressively confront suspected thieves is not the way to go about it. 

As we all know, while this story is frustrating, for POC, it’s not an uncommon or surprising one. The only silver lining is that the more attention stories like these get, the more the public will become educated on the insidious nature of implicit bias. 

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