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3 failures from the Kirkland Menchie’s incident

Security video at the Kirkland Menchie's shows Byran Ragland at the store. (KIRO 7)

Short story: A man was sitting in a Kirkland yogurt shop, not ordering anything, and the employees felt uncomfortable. They tell the owner. He calls 911 and police show up.

Even though the cops discovered the man was there as a state employee observing a meeting between a mother and her child; even though the mother confirmed this, the officers still kicked him out.

He was black, and this story has spurred a conversation around Kirkland and the surrounding community. Is this a bigger problem, and does this even happen that much around here?

RELATED: Boycott called for Kirkland yogurt shop

Here’s a longer story. This one is mine.

I went to military school. During my junior year, I visited home for spring break. During that time, I went on a drive to my grandmother’s house – no big deal. I got pulled over.

One cop came to the passenger side, toward the back. The other cop was at the front. He said, “Where you going?”

“I’m going to my grandmother’s house.”

“Shouldn’t you be at school?”

I said, “I’m on spring break.”

The cop looks at me and says that Chicago Public Schools are not on spring break; they’re still in class. So I explain that I go to military school, outside of Chicago.

“Where are you coming from?”

“I’m coming from my house.”

“Get out of the car,” the cop said.

The cop proceeded to put me up against the car door and asked if I had anything in the car. I said I didn’t. When they asked for permission to search my car, I gave it.

“I’m going to handcuff you, just to make sure you’re alright,” the cop said as they proceeded to dump things out of the glove compartment and the trunk.

Now, this is what I think happened next. I think they ran the license plate number or found some other information and it pinged back to my dad’s name – a cop. They put two-and-two together and started to act cool. They were saying they wanted to make sure everything was cool and make sure I was OK.

For years and years, there has been such a bad stereotype about black men that sometimes so many people assume the wrong things. When I hear a story like this, in Kirkland, it’s hurtful. It brings up memories from my life. I have other stories. After what happened on that spring break, I was crying. Even though I did everything I was supposed to do, I was crying. I was hurt. I didn’t understand why these cops were doing me this way. I did everything I was supposed to do, but they still treated me so bad.

And they were both black cops. I’m not saying cops are bad, by the way. I’m the son of a cop.

But the reason I bring all this up is we have to get better than the assumptions that someone of color is bad; that they are suspicious because they are black. I know someone out there has been saying that not everything is about race – OK, it’s not always about race. But it does happen and it is happening too much.

And it happened in Kirkland. The shop’s owner, Mr. Cruz, called 911 and said Mr. Ragland looked suspicious – he was just sitting there. People go into stores all the time. They might be waiting for somebody else to meet them. Maybe they are supervising someone like Mr. Ragland was.

3 failures from the Kirkland Menchie’s incident

There are three parties at fault here who set in motion a series of errors. And some bear more responsibility than the others.

The staff

This started with the employees at the store.

In my honest opinion, I think out of everybody involved, the two employees have the least responsibility in this story. They certainly have responsibility; they got it wrong. It is hurtful that Mr. Ragland does not get the benefit of the doubt from the start.

Young people aren’t the best at communicating. In this situation, as a father and as someone who is sympathetic and understanding, I see this and I say, “OK, it’s to be expected to some degree.” The young girls thought he looked suspicious. He’s not buying anything. He’s just sitting there. So they send a message to the boss.

The owner

The employees texted the owner Raymond Cruz and let him know that a man is in the store who hasn’t purchased anything, and he’s hanging out for a while.

Raymond Cruz takes their word and he’s understanding that his employees are uncomfortable. He calls 911 and says that Mr. Raglund looks suspicious. Why? Why does he look suspicious? He has said they’ve had robberies in the area, even though the perpetrator was not a person of color in those instances. They have had robberies and maybe they were scared in that situation.

Cruz says that this isn’t about race. He says he’s Asian. It doesn’t matter. You have to understand that Mr. Ragland was just doing his job and how this might make him feel.

The two police officers

I’m glad the Kirkland Police Department came out and admitted they were sorry. But I don’t understand how police officers showed up to that scene, got the facts, assessed the situation, and still did not do the right thing. They did not make Mr. Ragland feel comfortable in that situation. It could have been done right there.

This would have never been a story if the cops would have done things differently once they realize what the situation was and said “Sorry about this. Go ahead, please.” This would have never been a story if that happened.

It is a story because it got this far. They could have stopped it. We have to get better, Kirkland Police Department. You have to implement some better policies and practices to prevent these kind of offenses from happening. This is dangerous. As you can see on the news, these types of situations have become dangerous.

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