Cambridge School Committee member Rev. Manikka Bowman and her husband Jeff Myers, describe what happened this weekend after they spent $100 to pick apples with their kids at Connors Farm and were headed to the farm store to pay for the six extra apples they discovered their kids had picked that were six too many for the bag they had: They were confronted by security and a manager who accused them of trying to steal the apples.
And then, when they asked for the owner's contact info, the manager called police.
The police officer was tempered. However, despite our visible frustration and attempts to explain the situation, he never took our position seriously. Rather, his actions and words assumed that the manager's narrative was accurate and then accused us of "playing the race card." And he did so even as the manager made questionable assertions, including that if we did not pay for the apples, Connors Farm could not resell them because we had already picked them. Really? Connors Farm literally sells buckets of apples destined to be shot out of cannons and explode on contact with a target. Is this how Danvers treats its visitors? ...
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. All for a handful of apples picked with enthusiasm by the family who’d paid to be there, donated to the local charity, and had planned to finish off an otherwise excellent Labor Day outing with buying traditional apple cider donuts and other products.
They are now seeking a written apology, a donation equal to what they spent to the Essex County Community Foundation for its racial equity work and a commitment from the farm and Danvers Police to have their staff "undergo diversity, equity, and inclusion training."
On Facebook, the farm apologized today:
We regret the incident that happened this past weekend. 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.
Danvers town officials issued an apology and said the family's request is "entirely appropriate:"
This request is also consistent with the guidance provided by the Danvers Select Board in April 2021, when it accepted the final report of the Welcoming Community Working Group, which was formed last fall after the thin blue line American flag controversy in Danvers. A link to the report and its many recommendations can be found here:
Town leaders have reached out to the family and have scheduled a meeting with them to discuss the incident. The Town has also been in contact with the business involved, expressed its disappointment, and encouraged the business to issue an apology, honor the requests of the family, and provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for their employees.