DANVERS, MASS. (WHDH) - A Cambridge couple say they were racially profiled while apple picking at a farm in Danvers over the holiday weekend. Now that farm is apologizing.
Jeff Myers, his wife Manikka Bowman and their two young daughters filled a bag of apples and were moving into the store to buy some cider and donuts but, before they could get there, Connors Farms security stopped them.
They said the family had too many apples that were not in the designated apple bag they had paid for.
“They asked me for my purse and began to search it,” Bowman said. “At that point, I started questioning, ‘Do you do this to all your guests? Why are you doing this?”
At that point, Bowman and Myers said they asked the manager they were speaking with, to connect them with the owner of the farm. Instead of doing that, they say he called the cops.
The couple says they do not understand why.
“Was it the fact that we are an African American family that played into it? Whether people admit it or not, unconscious bias is a real thing and it impacts your interactions,” Bowman said.
Disheartened by the situation – they sent a letter to the farm, police department and town.
In response, the town of Danvers extended an apology to the family and wrote a statement that reads in part, “Let us be very clear, discriminatory behavior has no place in Danvers, or in any community.”
Connors Farm also offered their apologies to the family in a statement on Facebook that read in part: “We regret the incident that happened this past weekend… 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.”
Bowman and Myers hope this issue over apples can spark an important conversation about everyday biases for everyone involved, and all those who responded to their situation.
“What I would ask is everybody who has done that, continue to hold accountable the institutions that claim we are going to improve and do these things,” said Myers.
“If our pain that we are still processing can lead to a broader community conversation that creates meaningful change, well then we’re grateful for that,” Bowman added.
Town leaders say they’ve been in contact with the farm and encouraged management there to provide diversity and inclusion training for its employees.
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