Officials at Angry Orchard brewery in upstate Walden, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley, have admitted to mishandling a situation wherein employees accused a man celebrating his 40th birthday and proposing to his fiancé of stealing a t-shirt from their gift shop.
The couple, Cathy-Marie Hamlet, a doctor from New York City and her fiancé, are Black.
Hamlet posted on Facebook:
So…I got engaged today! But we’ll get to that part later. Let me set the stage…
This weekend was my fiancé’s 40th birthday, and we had multiple events planned for this weekend. Today in particular though, we started out at Carroll Place for brunch in Manhattan — excellent establishment, by the way, with phenomenal costumer service and great food. We then decided to drive an hour an a half north to Walden, NY to Angry Orchard.
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.”
My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight. She then walked away, and my boyfriend and I sat down at the table and he began his proposal speech. MID PROPOSAL, the same young lady from security walks back towards and 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.”
Mind you, my bag isn’t even large enough to fit a T-shirt. 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. She departs again, and shortly after my boyfriend pops the question! I say yes, of course. People started cheering. And then the other 6 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. 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.”
I asked them, “Do you have security cameras here?” And they said yes. So I said, “Well then you need to go and roll back your tape and see that nobody here stole anything from you guys.”
Security started taking our pictures, recording video, and took a picture of my license plate number. We as a group decided to leave 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. 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. I implore Angry Orchard to ROLL BACK THEIR SECURITY FOOTAGE on July 21st, 2019 because they owe all 8 of us an apology. 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.
This is a photo of some of the security happily waving us goodbye in the parking lot as we exited.
In a statement to People magazine, 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.”
UPDATE: Since publication off this post, Angry Orchard told Hudson Valley Post they apologized and admitted they mishandled the situation.