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The town of Danvers, Massachusetts, issued an apology to a Black couple on September 9, after they falsely accused the pair of stealing apples from Connors Farm. According to the Atlanta Black Star, Rev. Manikka Bowman and her husband Jeff Myers set out to the farm on Labor Day for a fun outing with their two children. Just as the family began wrapping up their apple picking festivities, Myers told The Salem News that an employee from the farm stopped them and said that they were picking “too many apples.”
The situation escalated after the couple was escorted into the farm stand building where three employees interrogated them about the allegedly “concealed” fruit. One employee even asked to look inside Bowman’s purse.
According to Insider, upon looking into their family’s apple bag, Bowman said “she realized her daughters had picked six extra apples than they had been allotted.
“I assumed we’d have a chance to pay for the extras in our final checkout,” Bowman said in the post detailing the ordeal. “With families being primary customers, surely, we couldn’t be the first to have excitedly over-picked by a few apples — six in our case.”
As the couple headed towards the checkout counter to purchase the extra fruit, security abruptly stopped them. Bowman and Myers asked to speak with a manager, which one of the employees identified as himself. The egregious staff member then called the police on the family who said they had spent “more than $100 on all-day admission,” bought food and beverages and donated to a scholarship fund the farm advertised throughout the day.
The police officer who arrived on the scene instantly sided with the farm employees, citing the Black family was “playing the race card” to get out of their alleged stealing.
“By jumping straight to an assumption of theft, Connors Farm created a scene, harassing us and causing our 7-year-old to burst into tears, anguish that lasted well into the evening,” the couple wrote elsewhere of their heated exchange.
Insider noted that after the incident occurred, Connors Farm actually overcharged Bowman and Myers for their apples– as their bag had not been filled to capacity. The farm later issued an apology to the distressed family on their Facebook page, The Independent notes.
“We regret the incident that happened this past weekend,” the statement read. “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,” the statement continued. “Please know that everybody is welcome on our farm.”
The family wrote on their blog that they want Connors Farm to donate their refund to the Essex County Community Foundation with the purpose of supporting their racial equity work. They also demand that the farm’s employees undergo diversity, equity, and inclusion training.
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