Steve Elzinga, the owner of Erie Orchards in Michigan has publicly apologized after reportedly confronting a Muslim family and accusing them of stealing peaches. The incident occurred earlier this month, and it took Elzinga over two weeks to issue a statement where he notably does not detail his actions that were caught on video.
“My sincere apologies to Joe Mahmoud, his wife, family, and the whole community for my remarks and actions on Sunday, August 13. I am very sorry,” Elzinga wrote on the Facebook page for Erie Orchards. “As a family business we have made a conscious effort to be a welcoming place for all in an often fractured world, and Sunday’s incident, sadly, did not reflect that. What occurred does not align with my values, beliefs, and heart of inclusion for everyone. I sincerely regret this and offer my deepest apologies.”
According to Mahmoud, after he made a $70 purchase, an employee at the orchard told his young daughters that they could take a bag full of peaches home for free because they were most likely rotten. Thinking they’d just wrapped up a “peaceful family outing,” Elzinga approached the family’s car where the situation quickly went south.
He opened my vehicle door, began to rifle through our bags on the floor, and without any provocation, he stated, “You people are always stealing.” Shocked and willing to rectify any misunderstanding, I explained the information his staff had given us and that we were more than willing to pay for anything necessary. Then, to our horror and in front of my young girls began expressing openly racist sentiments, stating he didn’t want Muslims at the orchard, all they do is steal, and that he didn’t need us to patronize his business.
Elzinga began demanding that Mahmoud pay him $58 for the small bag of peaches that were only priced at $2.49. Mahmoud handed the bag back to Elzinga, who at that point was proudly admitting he’s racist on video, and the family attempted to leave. That’s when Elzinga got violent.
“As the man got super aggressive with his actions and as it became clear he had not called the police I began to fear for the safety of my family,” Mahmoud wrote. “I told him I was leaving and I began slowly backing out to make sure he would to get hurt. He then began to ram his shoulder into my truck.”
Fortunately, Mahmoud caught most of the encounter on video, which you can see below: