It was supposed to be a day she’d remember for the rest of her life — the day her boyfriend proposed to her. Instead, Cathy-Marie Hamlet, writing in a Facebook post, explained that she was humiliated, due to the constant interruptions during the proposal speech by security guards who claimed the couple had stolen a T-shirt.
Hamlet, her fiance, and six other friends drove from New York city to Walden, New York, to visit the Angry Orchard farm. Officially her boyfriend’s 40th birthday party, it was also going to be the spot where he’d propose to Hamlet, NBC News reported.
As he began his speech while the two sat separately from the group at a table outside a gift shop, Hamlet said that the two were approached by a security guard, who made the accusation of theft from the store. She demanded that Hamlet’s fiance, Clyde Jackson, empty all of his pockets — which would be tricky, due to the fact that he had the ring in one of them.
After that was done, Jackson continued his speech, only to be interrupted again midway through. Still searching for the T-shirt, the guard demanded Hamlet empty out her purse to prove she didn’t have it this time.
“My bag was small and I couldn’t have fit a T-shirt in it, but I emptied the contents of my purse anyway,” Hamlet said. She also asked the guard why they were being targeted specifically, noting that they were the only black couple there.
“I told her that I knew she was just doing her job, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she kept coming up to us because we’re black. We were the only black people there, besides three of the friends who came along with us,” Hamlet later explained.
The guard left the two again, after not finding the T-shirt. Afterward, Jackson finally proposed to Hamlet, and the couple’s friends joined them to celebrate. That’s when the guard returned for a third time, with five other security guards, demanding that other members of the group prove they didn’t have the T-shirt.
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…
“I felt humiliated, especially after one of my white friends made a point of asking them to check her bag for the T-shirt, but they refused to do so,” Hamlet said.
After things started getting “confrontational,” one of the guards decided they were going to call the police. Rather than deal with that, the group decided they’d leave the premises on their own — yet the guards continued to follow them, snapping pictures of their license plates as they left.
Angry Orchard officially denounced the tactics taken by the security guards at the farm in Walden, writing in a statement that the company was apologetic over the entire ordeal, the New York Post reported.
“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 company said. “The situation didn’t reflect our values of respect and creating a welcoming environment for our guests.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, racial profiling occurs when “law enforcement and private security target people of color for humiliating and often frightening detentions, interrogations, and searches without evidence of criminal activity and based on perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion,” the organization writes on their website. It’s a “patently illegal” practice, they add.