Angry Orchard Fires Manager and Security Team After Guards Repeatedly Interrupted a Black Couple’s Engagement Over Accusations of Stealing
Angry Orchard has fired an on-call manager and security officers after they halted a Black New York couple’s engagement to accuse the pair of stealing a T-shirt.
“We’re extremely embarrassed this happened and have taken the immediate steps to remove the manager who was on-duty from her role and replace members of the security team,” Angry Orchard said in a statement released to People magazine.
The hard cider company said it apologized to the guest involved directly and “offered to make it right.”
“We badly mishandled the situation and our team overreacted,” Angry Orchard said.
Cathy-Marie Hamlet, 32, said in a Facebook post that she and her fiancé, Clyde Jackson, were accused of stealing on July 21 when they joined a group of six of their friends at the Angry Orchard farm in Walden, New York.
The group, who’d traveled from Manhattan to the farm about 70 miles north, was sitting at a table outside the orchard’s gift shop Sunday when a white security guard approached them.
‘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 said.
She said her boyfriend complied, all “while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight.”
Related: New York Couple’s Engagement Ruined When Security Guards Interrupt Not Once But Three Times To Repeatedly Search Their Belongings for an Allegedly Stolen T-Shirt
Then, the security worker left only to return a few moments later.
“MID PROPOSAL, the same young woman from security walks back towards and says to me, ‘I am sorry, I need to check your bag. I was told that he gave it to you, and you put it in your bag,'” Hamlet said.
Hamlet explained that her bag isn’t large enough to fit a T-shirt inside, but she emptied it anyway, revealing no shirt.
That would have been the end of the encounter, but the security guard returned a third time right after Jackson proposed, Hamlet said.
She accepted and friends were congratulating them.
“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’ll have to check all your purses and pockets,'” Hamlet said in her Facebook post. “So at this point, the rest of security walks over and there’s 6 of them approaching us.”
Hamlet said her friends told the guards they hadn’t stolen a T-shirt, but “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!!”
Hamlet said at one point in the encounter, one of the guards told another to “call the police,” and she and her friends decided to leave.
“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,” Hamlet said in her Facebook post.
In response to the incident, Angry Orchard announced a plan to make sure “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,” Angry Orchard said in its statement. “The situation doesn’t reflect our values of respect for all and creating a welcoming environment for all our guests.”
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