A man proposing to his girlfriend in what was supposed to be a romantic moment was stopped repeatedly while trying to pop the question by white security guards racially profiling the black couple, according to the bride-to-be.
In a Facebook post, Cathy-Marie Hamlet detailed the couple’s experience with six friends Sunday at Angry Orchard cider brewery in Walden, New York, noting that fiancé Clyde Jackson was just about to make his speech when he was interrupted the first time.
“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,’” she wrote. “My boyfriend then emptied all of his pockets, while still trying to keep the ring box hidden from my sight.”
The guard eventually left, and Jackson began his proposal, only to be stopped a second time by the same officer, who now wanted to search Hamlet’s bag for the missing shirt, she said.
“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.’”
Hamlet said the guard denied that was the case.
Finally, Jackson finished his proposal. And Hamlet said “yes,” prompting several of the couple’s friends to walk over and offer congratulations.
Hamlet said that’s when the security guard approached them a third time ― this time to check the pockets and purses of the couple’s friends, not realizing they all were part of the same group.
At that point, Hamlet said, they were confronted by six guards, and one of them was demanding that the police be called.
“Security started taking our pictures, recording video, and took a picture of my license plate number,” Hamlet said. “We as a group decided to leave rather than be attacked by the multiple security guards of Angry Orchard.”
Jessica Paar, director of communications for Boston Beer Co., which owns Angry Orchard, said she was “extremely embarrassed this happened.” Paar told HuffPost in a statement that the security guards confronted the couple “based on what we thought at the time was credible information provided by another guest.”
“We reached out and spoke directly with the guest involved to express our sincerest apology and offered to make it right,” Paar said. “We badly mishandled the situation and our team overreacted.”
The manager on duty at the time has since been fired, and the outside security team members are being replaced, Paar said. She added that there will be additional training for all employees “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,” Paar said. “The situation doesn’t reflect our values of respect for all and creating a welcoming environment for all our guests.”