Proposing to your fianceé should be a intimate and life-changing experience, especially for the person making the proposal. For Clyde Jackson and Cathy-Marie Hamlet, their proposal was ruined for the simple reason of popping the question while black. In a Facebook post, Hamlet shared her joy and her sadness over the incident. It was Jackson’s 40th birthday, so the couple and a group of friend partied in Manhattan, then drove outside the city to the Angry Orchard in Walden, NY. As soon as everyone sat down, a member of the security staff approached Jackson. She alleged that he had stolen a t-shirt from the brewery’s gift shop, and demanded that he empty his pockets.
But inside Jackson’s pocket was…a box containing the ring. Hamlet describes how Jackson tried to hide it, but she’d already seen it. The security guard then left the couple, and Jackson proceeded to begin the proposal. At this point, Hamlet says security came back again. “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,” she wrote, explaining that her bag was too small to contain a t-shirt. Not that it should matter, because the couple was busy getting engaged!
Hamlet then asks if they were being targeted because they are black. “…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.” Jackson pops the question, she says yes, and their group of friends congratulates the happy couple. The security guard comes back again with 6 other guards and demands to search all members of the party. That’s when things got really upsetting.
“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!!” wrote Hamlet. One of the security guards yelled for another to call the police, which is even more wrong, considering how black folks are consistently at danger around police, especially in majority-white spaces. The group quickly left. “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.”
Hamlet wrote about how humiliated and hurt she was. No one should have to endure this, and it’s particularly heartbreaking that her proposal will now be attached to such a painful event. “I 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,” she wrote. We’ve reached out the Angry Orchard for comment and will update if they respond.