A couple says Angry Orchard ruined their marriage proposal by racially profiling them during an all-important moment.
What are the details?
In a viral Facebook post, Cathy-Marie Hamlet recalled her marriage proposal at Angry Orchard in Walden, New York, which took place over the weekend.
Hamlet detailed the weekend, which involved her fiancé’s 40th birthday party and the surprise proposal. The couple and their friends started off with brunch in Manhattan, and later drove north to Angry Orchard in nearby Walden.
“A group of 8 of us went there to enjoy an afternoon with some hard cider. My boyfriend walked me out to an empty table on the lawn, and before we could sit down, a young lady from security approached us and said to him, ‘I’m sorry sir, but I have to check you back pocket. I was told that you stole a T-shirt from from the gift store,'” Hamlet wrote in the post, which has been shared more than 5,000 times at the time of this writing.
It only got worse from there. Her boyfriend — who remains unnamed at this time — had to empty out all of his pockets, including that which held the ring box.
The man attempted to propose to Hamlet a second time after the employee was satisfied that the man didn’t have a T-shirt on his person. He broke into his proposal speech when the same employee reportedly interrupted a second time and insisted on checking further. The employee reportedly told the couple, “I’m sorry, I need to check your bag. I was told that he gave it to you, and you put it in your bag.”
“Mind you, my bag isn’t even large enough to fit a T-shirt,” Hamlet wrote. “I emptied my entire bag in front of her, and since this was the SECOND time she had walked over, I said, “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.'”
Hamlet said that the woman denied the allegation and ended up leaving the couple alone — without a T-shirt in sight. When the two were finally alone, her boyfriend was able to propose. Hamlet said “yes.”
But it didn’t end there.
“Then surprise, surprise,” Hamlet wrote. “[T]he same young lady from security walks over to the group of us and says, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you all were a part of the same party. I have to check all of your purses and pockets.’ So at this point, the rest of security walks over and there’s 6 of them approaching us.”
Hamlet and her group of friends insisted that none of them had stolen a T-shirt, but it escalated even further.
According to Hamlet, one female security guard told another guard to call the police. Hamlet insisted that the guards review their security footage as proof that Hamlet — who’s name is listed as Marie Cleone on Facebook — and her party did not steal from the venue.
She revealed that security began snapping photos of the group, and even took a picture of Hamlet’s license plate as they were leaving.
“I have never been so humiliated in my life, myself and some of my friends left Angry Orchard in tears,” she wrote. “On what was supposed to be one of the best days of my life, I was chased out of Angry Orchard by security who followed us all the way to the parking lot.
“I’m sorry, and not to sound pretentious, but as a doctor, I have no reason to steal a $28 T-shirt when I could afford to buy ALL of the T-shirts in their gift shop,” she added. “I implore Angry Orchard to ROLL BACK THEIR SECURITY FOOTAGE on July 21st, 2019 because they owe all 8 of us an apology.”
Hamlet concluded, “Angry Orchard 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.”
How did Angry Orchard respond?
The company expressed its regret over the allegation in a Monday statement.
“As soon as we learned about this incident, we launched an investigation into what happened and got in touch directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offer to make it right,” the company said, according to The Hill. “We recognize that we badly mishandled this situation and our team’s response was inexcusable.”
On Tuesday, the company doubled down on their apology:
Statement regarding situation at our orchard on Sunday 7/21: For those who have reached out about a recent issue at our orchard, we would like to provide an update. As soon as we learned about this incident, we launched an investigation into what happened and got in touch directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offer to make it right. We recognize that we badly mishandled this situation and our team’s response was inexcusable. As of yesterday, we have replaced the security team members working that day and the manager who was on duty. We are initiating additional, mandatory training on security awareness and unconscious bias for everyone on staff to prevent something like this from happening in the future. We’re deeply sorry that our guests were mistreated. This event does not reflect our company values of respect for all and creating a welcoming environment for our guests, and while we wish it didn’t occur at all, we are treating this moment as a valuable learning experience for our staff.
The company’s Facebook page was inundated with furious comments regarding the experience of Hamlet’s party.
One user wrote, “I will never buy an Angry Orchard product again unless you address your racism problem. Even if the security guards thought a $28 dollar T-shirt had been stolen they had no right to disrupt this groups gathering without proof. They were your customers and you can now see that racially profiling them was a big mistake because you are going to lose a lot of business and your reputation. I had a good opinion of your business until this happened!”
Another added, “This is a racist establishment! How dare you allow you employees to treat people in that manner! Have some respect! People come and PAY WITH THEIR HARD EARNED MONEY to enjoy your services only to be treated like they are unwelcome. If this is the case and you do not want African Americans at your establishment, then make it known! This type of disrespect will NOT be tolerated anymore! Believe that I will make EVERYONE I know aware (some who frequently visit your establishment) of the action of your employees. P.S. you owe 8 individuals extensive apologies and I’m sure they are waiting[.]”