A doctor from New York City is claiming that employees at Angry Orchard brewery racially profiled her and a group of her friends over the weekend, interrupting her now-fiancé while he was mid-proposal to question whether he stole a T-shirt from their gift shop.
Cathy-Marie Hamlet wrote about the alleged incident in a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday, explaining that she, her fiancé, and a group of six of their friends had traveled up to the brewery in Walden, New York “to enjoy an afternoon with some hard cider.”
While there, Hamlet’s partner — who was also celebrating his 40th birthday — had planned to pop the question, walking her out to an empty table on the lawn. But before he had the chance to get down on one knee, Hamlet said an Angry Orchard security official approached them, telling 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.’ ”
Hamlet says her fiancé “emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden.” But that allegedly wasn’t enough.
After walking away, the security guard returned “mid proposal,” this time asking Hamlet to empty her bags. “[She] says to me, ‘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,’ ” Hamlet recalled. “Mind you, my bag isn’t even large enough to fit a T-shirt.”
That’s when Hamlet says she started to suspect something was up. “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.’ “
“Of course, she said that that wasn’t the case,” Hamlet continued.
After that, Hamlet says her fiancé finally proposed. “I say yes, of course. People started cheering. And then the other 6 our friends walked over to us to hug and congratulate us,” Hamlet said. Seconds later, the same security officer was back, this time asking to check the belongings of every member of their 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.’ “
Hamlet then claimed that “security started taking our pictures, recording video, and took a picture of my license plate number.”
Ultimately she says they decided to leave “rather than be attacked by the multiple security guards of Angry Orchard.” (She posted a photo of security “happily waving us goodbye in the parking lot as we exited.”)
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“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.”
In a statement to PEOPLE, 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.”