Officials in Danvers, Massachusetts, are apologizing to a family that says it experienced racial profiling at an apple orchard.
Rev. Manikka Bowman, vice chair of the Cambridge School Committee says her family was at Connors Farm on Labor Day when workers accused them of stealing apples.
Earlier, Bowman, her husband and her 1-year-old child had been having a pleasant time at the orchard, describing excellent customer service.
"Throughout the course of the day, most of the staff we interacted with were very helpful," said Jeff Myers, Bowman's husband.
But the mood soon soured.
"Soon as we walked past the apple orchard facility, security stopped us," said Bowman.
The couple says staff, security and a Danvers Police officer claimed they'd stolen apples from the orchard that were in a bag under their child's stroller.
"They decided to search my purse," Bowman said. "That was the moment where I realized that this wasn't about maybe a few extra apples."
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The couple believes staff and officers presumed their guilt, an act of soft bigotry.
"The manager never acknowledged we had our bands on because we paid to be there. We had a bag that we paid for. We had the big green cup that we paid for. We told them repeatedly, we were coming here to buy more stuff. And after all that, he still said, 'It's my job to prevent stealing,'" Myers recalled.
"It was really a tough moment for our family," Bowman added.
"The Town extends its apologies for the unsettling experience the family had at a local business and for the comment made by a Danvers employee," the town said in a statement. "Town leaders have reached out to the family and have scheduled a meeting with them to discuss the incident."
"We regret the incident that happened this past weekend," the farm said on its Facebook page. "We have extended our personal apology to the family. We do our best to train our employees to handle all customer issues with courtesy and respect at all times. We are taking further steps to ensure that staff will undergo diversity, equity and inclusion training. Please know that everybody is welcome on our farm."
"Despite the accusations, the only way I felt like we could safely get out of that situation is to pay for it and get out with our family," Myers said.