Angry Orchard has fired the manager who was on duty at the brewery when a Black couple was allegedly harassed and racially profiled in the middle of their proposal.
“We’re extremely embarrassed this happened,” the company said. “We reached out and spoke directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offered to make it right…We badly mishandled the situation and our team overreacted.”
The incident prompting the swift action by the company started on Sunday, when Cathy-Marie Hamlet, her fiancé Clyde Jackson, and six of their friends decided to go to the brewery in Walden, New York, as part of Jackson’s birthday celebrations.
While there, Jackson tried to pop the question to Hamlet, only to be repeatedly interrupted by security guards.
“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 your back pocket. I was told that you stole a T-shirt from the gift store.’” My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight,” Hamlet wrote in her Facebook post detailing the incident.
Jackson started his proposal speech after that only for the couple to be interrupted again, this time with the same security guard demanding to check Hamlet’s bag.
Hamlet said that was when she began to question the security guard’s motives.
“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.’ Of course, she said that that wasn’t the case. She departs again,” Hamlet wrote.
After that, Jackson managed to get out the big question, and Hamlet accepted. However as their friends gathered around to join in the celebration, the entire group was targeted once again.
“Then the other 6 of our friends walked over to us to hug and congratulate us. Then surprise, surprise…the 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,” she wrote. “Of course, my friends told them none of us stole a T-shirt from their establishment, at which point they started getting aggressive and saying that not only them, but also patrons saw my boyfriend steal the shirt and/or transfer it to me to put in my bag!! Another woman in security yelled to one of the male security, ‘Call the police! I saw you steal it.’”
Hamlet wrote that the situation left her “humiliated,” as the guards started taking their pictures, recording videos, and photographing her license plate.
According to People, Angry Orchard also intends to ensure that “everyone on our team, from cidermakers to security, [has] additional training in the areas of security awareness and unconscious bias to prevent something like this from happening in the future.”
“We’re deeply sorry that our guests were mistreated. The situation doesn’t reflect our values of respect for all and creating a welcoming environment for all our guests,” the company added in its statement.