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Read: Danvers town officials issue statement on alleged racial profiling incident at Connors Farm

“Let us be very clear, discriminatory behavior has no place in Danvers, or in any community.”

Danvers town officials issued an apology on Thursday after a Cambridge family said they were racially profiled and accused of stealing during a visit to Connors Farm on Labor Day.

Manikka Bowman, who is vice-chair of the Cambridge School Committee, and her husband, Jeff Myers, who works in real estate, sent a letter to Danvers officials detailing the “traumatic experience” they had on their trip to the farm with their two young children, during which a police officer was called to the business.

Bowman and Myers, who are Black, said after picking fruit in the orchard with their children, they walked toward the farm store to buy apple cider donuts and pay for the extra apples they realized their young children had harvested that didn’t fit into the required bag. On their way to the store, they said they were stopped by a security officer and then escorted inside the shop, where the couple said their belongings were searched and a police officer called to the scene.

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In their account of the incident, Bowman and Myers said the police officer “assumed that the manager’s narrative was accurate and then accused us of ‘playing the race card.’”

Danvers Town Manager Steve Bartha told Boston.com on Thursday that the events described in the letter by the Cambridge couple are “corroborated” by the police report on the incident. He also condemned the statement allegedly uttered by the Danvers officer. 

“That was 100 percent the wrong thing to say,” Bartha said. “I don’t think anybody is disputing that.”

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In a joint statement released Thursday, Bartha, Danvers Police Chief James Lovell, Select Board Chair Gardner Trask III, and Dutrochet Djoko, chair of the town’s Human Rights and Inclusion Committee, issued an apology.

“The Town of Danvers received a letter describing an incident and alleged racial profiling at a Danvers business, which included a racially insensitive comment made by the Danvers Police Officer who was called to respond,” the statement read.  “The Town extends its apologies for the unsettling experience the family had at a local business and for the comment made by a Danvers employee. Let us be very clear, discriminatory behavior has no place in Danvers, or in any community.”

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The leaders said they have scheduled a meeting with Bowman and Myers 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,” the officials said.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon, Connors Farm said it regretted the incident and “extended our personal apology to the family.” It also said staff would undergo “diversity, equity and inclusion training.” 

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“We regret the incident that happened this past weekend,” the business wrote. “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.”

Connors Farm deleted a previous Facebook post that appeared to reference the incident by stating their “right to inspect all backpacks, bags and strollers” exiting the orchard.

Bowman and Myers asked for three things in the letter sent to Danvers officials: a written apology from the owners of Connors Farm, that the money they spent at the business be refunded in the form of a donation to the Essex Country Community Foundation to support racial equity, and that both the farm and Danvers police commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion training.

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In their joint statement, Danvers officials said the request for training is “entirely reasonable and appropriate.”

Read the full statement from the town below: 

Yesterday, the Town of Danvers received a letter describing an incident and alleged racial profiling at a Danvers business, which included a racially insensitive comment made by the Danvers Police Officer who was called to respond.  The Town extends its apologies for the unsettling experience the family had at a local business and for the comment made by a Danvers employee.

Let us be very clear, discriminatory behavior has no place in Danvers, or in any community.

In their letter, the family asked that the Town commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion training for its staff – a request we believe is entirely reasonable and 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.

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