Protesters call for boycott of Kirkland Menchie’s yogurt shop, and more
A protest targeted a Kirkland frozen yogurt shop Tuesday, where police were previously called by owner Ramon Cruz, to ask a black man to move along.
That man, Byran Ragland, was joined by members of the King County NAACP, as well as other civil rights activists at the shop. A press conference outside the Menchie’s shop on 124th in Kirkland began at 10 a.m. Ragland said that not only was he uninterested in the store owner’s apology, he felt a proper response would be for him to take over Cruz’s stores.
“Mr. Ragland is here today to tell his story … this is America’s story, this is the black community’s story,” said Gerald Hankerson, president of Seattle King County NAACP. “This is an issue we’ve been talking about for years but it took this incident to bring us out here to Menchie’s today.”
The NAACP said that the Menchie’s incident is part of a growing trend that “must end before it takes root and eventually becomes the norm as it was during the Jim Crow era!”
Attorney James Bible said that while in the days of the civil rights movement, people would be removed for being black, today they are removed for being suspicious. “Code is used,” he said.
“It’s time for authentic, actual justice, and that authentic, actual justice is coming to Kirkland,” Bible said. “Get ready Kirkland and get ready Menchie’s.”
The Menchie’s in Kirkland was closed Tuesday. A sign posted on its door explained that staff was in training instead, and further stated “We are truly sorry about what occurred at our store on Nov. 7. We humbly apologize to Mr. Ragland for what he experienced during his visit. This does not reflect our values, and we are genuinely sorry.”
The letter continues to state that the store “will learn from this, grow from this, and become better people.”
Ragland said he continues to work his job and take on a full class load at the University of Washington, but he, nor his parents, have slept through the night since. At the protest, he said he was not interested in what the store’s owner, Ramon Cruz, had to say. He said that he was moved by the social media outrage over the incident, but the response to the Menchie’s incident needs to go further.
“How much of that internet outrage is going to translate into tangible, quantifiable resources – result?” Ragland asked. “No symbolic gestures, no slogans …. We definitely should boycott this store. Those two young ladies who were petrified, they definitely should take a break from work, especially from the customer service realm.”
“Let me tell you what I think we should do, what is going to make me feel safer in this community, let me tell you what I think is going to inspire change,” he said. “I think we need to make sure Ramon Cruz is unable to renew his business license here. And when the lease for this store is up, we need to make sure that Byron Ragland has the capital and resources to purchase this Menchie’s and the two other restaurants he owns in this community. That would be a good place to start. That would make me feel a little bit better. That would be a look in the right direction and that is how you punish white supremacy and anti-black behavior – you hit it hard and you hit it fast right in its pockets.”
Ragland continued to comment, saying some people may think that the negative exposure which Cruz has and will experience should be enough punishment for the incident.
“They are gonna say he should be able to go on with his life,” Ragland said. “You know what I say? I say you cannot allow white supremacy to scurry away in the corner and lick its wounds and regroup. You got to keep your foot on white supremacy’s neck. You got to grind your boot into white supremacy’s throat until you hear it stop breathing. And when it’s looking up at you begging for mercy, you show it none. Because over the last 400 years, it hasn’t shown you any. Those are my intentions, that’s my agenda. I ask: How many allies do I still have left?”
Ragland left immediately after his speech, referring questions to the NAACP, saying he had to get to class.
Kirkland Menchie’s protest
A couple police officers were stationed at a distance, at both ends of the shopping center as the event began Tuesday.
“It was totally unfair,” said Ms. Wong, a Kirkland resident who attended the protest and spoke with reporters. “If they would have just went up to the man and asked him why he was there, I don’t think any of this would have happened.”
Wong said she was not surprised that this happened in her community “because, unfortunately, this is the world we live in today and people are jumping to conclusions before they know what’s going on.”
“I haven’t been to a protest since the Vietnam War … but I just decided I have had enough,” said another Kirkland resident, Susan Frederick, who read about the incident in The Seattle Times.
“There’s been enough of this,” she said. “… I don’t think (this type of stuff happens a lot in Kirkland), but you know what, I could be wrong. I’m a white lady and I sort of have that white privilege. I would probably not see the things that happen here.”
Organizers from @NAACP have arrived for protest/press conference @MyMenchies along with Byron Ragland who was asked to leave store by @KirklandWAPD when white staff complained he was suspicious #973FM pic.twitter.com/RYkaaBCn9V
— Hanna Scott (@HannaKIROFM) November 20, 2018
Black man asked to leave yogurt shop
Kirkland police are investigating how officers handled “a suspicious activity” call about a man at the frozen yogurt shop on Nov. 13. The store owner of the Kirkland Menchie’s called 911 to say the man was making his two employees uncomfortable and that he hung out inside the store without ordering anything for about 30 minutes.
“We didn’t look at it as ‘he is black,'” store owner Ramon Cruz told KIRO 7. “…(We looked at it) as a person who could be a problem from a safety perspective.”
Cruz says that when his employee texted him with concerns about a man in the store, there was no mention of race. That information was only brought up when the 911 dispatcher asked for it and Cruz said he appeared to be African-American on security video. The store, as well as other locations Cruz manages, have recently experienced incidents with employees being attacked or robbed. Cruz argues he was concerned about employee safety.
At the protest Tuesday, Ragland said the previous incidents were unrelated to what happened to him.
Ragland was at the shop as part of his job. He is a court-appointed special advocate and was supervising a visit between a mother and her 12-year-old son. His role was to observe.
“I was being a fly on the wall type of thing,” Ragland told KIRO 7. “That’s what I do. I sit back and watch their visit. I document their visit.”
He is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
When police responded to the scene, Ragland said the first thing they said was that he had to leave. Eventually, officers became aware of Ragland’s job and his reason for being in the store.
“I gave them my name initially,” Ragland said. “My client who was with me, she reassured them, ‘He’s with us; he’s working; what’s going on?'”
Still, officers instructed Ragland to move along. Ragland opted not to argue with police. He, along with the woman and child, left the store. Kirkland police have now launched an investigation to determine if officers acted within protocol. The department has also issued a public apology to Ragland.
— Menchie’s Yogurt (@MyMenchies) November 20, 2018
“You’re not going to convince me that my color has nothing to do with why the police were called …. I definitely thought it was uncalled for, I definitely thought it was unfair,” Ragland said. “I definitely thought it was profiling and discrimination.”
“I’m not accepting anybody’s apology,” he said. “If you want to apologize to me, let’s change some practices, let’s change some policies.”