Byron Ragland: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Byron Ragland

KIRO7 Byron Ragland is a black military veteran kicked out of a Kirkland, Washington yogurt shop by police.

Byron Ragland is a black court-appointed special advocate and military veteran who was kicked out of a Kirkland, Washington frozen yogurt shop because employees said he made them “uncomfortable,” The Associated Press reports.

The owner of Menchie’s yogurt shop called the police on November 7 while Ragland was supervising a court-sanctioned outing between a mother and her son. Police told Ragland that the owner wanted him to leave and he exited the store without any incident.

On Monday, Kirkland police apologized to Ragland.

“Our initial assessment showed that the interaction that occurred did not meet the expectations of our community or the high standards we set for ourselves,” Kirkland Police Chief Cherie Harris and City Manager Kurt Triplett said in a joint statement.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Byron Ragland is a 9-Year Air Force Veteran

byron ragland air force

Air ForceByron Ragland during his time in the Air Force.

Ragland spent nine years in the US Air Force as a staff sergeant who served as a jet-engine mechanic while stationed in Turkey, Germany, and Qatar, The Seattle Times reports.

Ragland currently studies psychology at the University of Washington, Tacoma.

He works as a court-appointed advocate and a visitation supervisor, which means he supervises meetings between children and parents who do not have custody of them. At the time of the incident, Ragland was supervising a visit with a mother and her 12-year-old son.

2. Employees Told 911 Byron Ragland Was ‘Suspicious’

Ragland went into Menchie’s with the woman and her child and sat at a nearby table for a half hour while they talked. After about 30 minutes, Ragland was approached by police, video obtained by the Seattle Times shows.

“They asked me to leave,” Ragland said. “They asked for my ID. They told me the manager had been watching me and wanted me to move along.”

Ragland left without incident. The police report acknowledged that Ragland was working.

“Ragland had two associates (female adult and male juvenile) with him, who stated they were there with him for visitation,” the report says.

“Store employees … told me that he had been in the store for a while and did not buy anything, and he was not making them feel comfortable,” an officer wrote, adding that the employees “were both thankful that Ragland was gone.”

3. Menchie’s Owner Apologizes For Police Call

According to The Seattle Times, store owner Ramon Cruz called 911 because Ragland did not order anything. Cruz was not at the store at the time and was called by two employees, who were identified as white women.

“They’re kind of scared because he looks suspicious,” Cruz told the 911 dispatcher. “All he does is look at his phone, look at them, look at his phone, look at them.”

Cruz told the dispatcher that Ragland was African American and later added that the store has had problems with “the homeless shooting drugs in the bathroom” and robberies.

“We can have the officers come there and tell him to move along,” the dispatcher replied.

Ragland told the Seattle Times that the call shows what it’s like to be black in America.

“You listen to that 911 call. He says right in there that I’m not doing anything,” he said. “But that’s all it takes in America — for you to be black, and to be somewhere you’re not supposed to be. And where you’re supposed to be is not up to you. It’s up to somebody else’s opinion.”

“How would you feel hearing that you made people so scared and uncomfortable that they called the police?” he added. “For me, that’s just Wednesday. I try not to let it consume me. But it’s hard not to conclude that I walk around in a certain skin, and that’s all that matters.”

Cruz later told The Seattle Times that it was a misunderstanding.

“This is not racial profiling, though,” Cruz said. “I mean I’m Asian, I experience the same thing. It was a misunderstanding, which sometimes do happen.”

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Cruz issued an apology Monday, saying he called the police because employees said they were “kind of scared because he looks suspicious.”

“I am truly sorry about what occurred at my store. I humbly apologize to Mr. Ragland for what he experienced during his visit. This does not reflect my values, and I am genuinely sorry,” he said in a statement to KEPR.

“I’m not accepting anybody’s apology,” Ragland told KIRO. “You know, if you want to apologize to me, let’s change some practices, let’s change some policies.”

4. City Leaders Apologize to Byron Ragland

Police officials issued an apology but did not say whether the officers violated any laws or procedures.

“Our initial assessment showed that the interaction that occurred did not meet the expectations of our community or the high standards we set for ourselves,” Kirkland Police Chief Cherie Harris and City Manager Kurt Triplett said in a joint statement.

“We felt that we needed to issue an apology,” said Kellie Stickney, a spokesperson for the city of Kirkland, told KEPR. “We know that this could have been an opportunity for our officers to mediate a misunderstanding between the owners and Mr. Ragland and the individuals who were with him that day.”

5. Kirkland, Washington Residents Outraged

Protesters gathered outside of Menchie’s to protest the store.

“This guy did nothing except sit in a store as a black man,” said Mark Morgenstern, one of the protesters, told KEPR.

“Let’s call it what it is. It’s implicit bias,” he added. “It’s feeding into this narrative of the scary black man.”

“Not everyone has been supportive, but for the most part people have been like, right on, thanks for taking action,” a protester named Kimberly told KING5.

“They are too uncomfortable to talk to this guy, to treat him like a human being. But they are not too uncomfortable to have the police called, and have them come and roust this guy and tell him he needs to move along. And that’s a problem,” a protester told the outlet.

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