An apple orchard in suburban Boston is offering a suspected hollow apology for a highly probable case of racial profiling during a holiday outing that a Black family said was meant to end the summer on a positive note.
Connors Farm, which is located in Danvers, Massachusetts, said it was sorry and vowed to make at least one of the three concessions that married couple Rev. Manikka Bowman, her husband, Jeff Myers, demanded in a blog post published earlier this week bringing attention to their racist ordeal about 21 miles north of Boston.
But according to one report, the concession was probably made begrudgingly, if a deleted Facebook comment was any indication.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Bowman, Mays and their two children — an 18-month old infant and a 7-year-old — went to Connors Farm from their home in Cambridge this past Monday to celebrate Labor Day as a family while picking fresh fruit and taking part in the orchard’s other activities.
They were able to accomplish the first half of their goal before a security guard stopped them and accused them of having more apples than the amount they paid for in advance.
Bowman and Mays wrote in their blog post published Wednesday that they were aware they had more apples than they paid for — six to be exact — because “our little ones, in their apple-picking excitement, had picked up a few more apples than fit in the bag,” they explained.
They wrote that she assumed theirs wasn’t the first family that had happened to and told the security guard she intended to pay for them at the farm store, where they also intended to buy some apple cider donuts and possibly other goods sold there.
Again, this is a couple with two young children, including a baby in a stroller, that paid “more than $100 on all-day admission, fruit picking as well as food and drinks” and contributed to a scholarship fund associated with Connors Farm.
But none of that mattered to the security guard, who accused them of having “concealed” fruit and proceeded to search Bowman’s purse.
“As it became apparent that the security guards, along with a third employee who was located in the farm building, were accusing our family of stealing, our outrage at the false accusation and the embarrassment and confusion it was causing us grew stronger,” the blog post said.
When Bowman and Mays demanded the contact information for the farm’s owner, a person who identified himself as the orchard manager refused and instead called the police.
The couple said the police response was to further criminalize them and he accused them of “playing the race card.”
The couple said they were filled with confusion.
“Why was this happening? We looked at each other, wondering. What made them suspect us of stealing? Had our skin color influenced their thinking?” they wrote. “Were we presumed guilty because we are an African American family? Why hadn’t they taken a much simpler, customer-friendly route and presumed our innocence with a simple reminder on what to do with any fruit that did not fit in the bag?”
They said the incident, which traumatized their 7-year-old daughter, prompted them to issue three demands to Connors Farm: a written apology from its owners; for the money they spent at Connors Farm to be donated to a local nonprofit organization “with the specific purpose of supporting their racial equity work;” and for Connors Farm and the Danvers Police Department to have their staffs “undergo diversity, equity, and inclusion training.”
Connors Farm apparently has only fulfilled one-third of the couple’s demands with a written apology that the Associated Press reported was posted to its Facebook page, which was not immediately publicly accessible on Saturday afternoon.
Robert Connors, who owns the Farm, told local media outlet the Salem News that the incident was regrettable and that he “extended our personal apology to the family. While Connors said the orchard does its “best to train our employees to handle all customer issues with courtesy and respect,” there was no reported mention of diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Salem News also reported that “someone with access to the farm’s Facebook page” posted a snide comment that suggested its apology wasn’t sincere.
“Just a friendly reminder that we reserve the right to inspect all backpacks, bags and strollers that exit our orchard,” the Facebook post on Thursday said. But the Salem News said the post had been deleted later that same day.
Bowman and Myers said the six apples they were accused of stealing might be worth $4.
“We are left wondering, was it ever about the apples?” they asked rhetorically.
This is America.