What should have been a joyous occasion was marred for a doctor from New York City who wrote on Facebook that employees at an Angry Orchard brewery racially profiled her and a group of friends over the weekend, right as her now-fiancé was in the middle of his proposal.
According to a lengthy Facebook post from Cathy-Marie Hamlet, she, her fiancé and six of their friends had gone to the brewery located in Walden, New York, to enjoy an "afternoon with some hard cider."
Unbeknownst to Hamlet, her partner - who was also celebrating his 40th birthday - planned to pop the question to her. However, as her fiance walked her out to an empty table on the lawn, an Angry Orchard security guard approached them saying that "'I'm sorry sir, but I have to check your back pocket. I was told you stole a T-shirt from the gift store.'"
Hamlet says her fiance complied without complaint, emptying his pockets (while still trying to conceal the ring), but that wasn't enough to mollify the security guard. The security guard walked away, and then returned, once again interrupting the proposal to ask Hamlet to empty her bags. According to the post, the security guard told her, "'I'm sorry, I need to check your bag. I was told that he gave it to you, and your put it in your bag.'" Hamlet added that her bag wasn't "even large enough to fit a T-shirt."
After emptying her bag in front of the guard, Hamlet said she began suspecting something was amiss and told the guard that "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.'"
The security guard demurred, saying that wasn't the case.
Eventually, Hamlet says her fiance was able to get through his proposal and she says yes. People began cheering the happy couple and their six friends walked over to join them for the happy moment to hug and congratulate them.
That's when the security guard returned for the third time, this time asking to check the belongings of every member in Hamlet's group.
"So at this point, the rest of security walks over and there’s 6 of them approaching us," Hamlet 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.’"
That's when the security team began "taking our pictures, recording video, and took a picture of my license plate."
Hamlet says she and her group decided to leave the Angry Orchard Brewery "rather than be attacked by the multiple security guards of Angry Orchard."
"I have never been so humiliated in my life, myself and some of my friends left Angry Orchard in tears," Hamlet added. "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."
Hamlet adds that as a doctor she had "no reason to steal a $28 T-shirt when I could afford to buy ALL of the T-shirts in their gift shop."
She implored the brewery to roll back their security footage from the date of the incident and issue an apology to her and her group of friends.
In a statement to People Magazine, a spokesperson for Angry Orchard said: "We reached out and spoke directly with the guest involved to express our apology and offer to make it right. Our security team approached a group of guests based on what they thought was credible information at the time. We believe that we mishandled the situation and we’re now working on additional training for our team to prevent something like this from happening in the future. We’re deeply sorry. The situation didn’t reflect our values of respect and creating a welcoming environment for our guests."