On November 7, Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop (in Kirkland, WA) owner, Ramon Cruz, received a call from two teenage girl employees who said there was a suspicious man at his store. The man had been there for 30 minutes and didn’t buy anything from the store. He was looking at his phone a lot and also watching a woman and her child.
Ramon called Kirkland Police and they came to remove the man as an “unwanted subject.” Ramon says that in the past his store has been robbed and the man’s activity wasn’t normal for a customer (technically he WASN’T a customer).
Police came and asked the man to leave. The loitering man told officers the request to leave was “not necessary,” but he left the store without incident or complaining.
Turns out the man, Byron Ragland, is a court-appointed supervisor and was watching a visit between a mother and son. He was sitting at a table by himself without buying anything. He had not informed the store employees of what he was doing there.
Fast forward to today and all heck has broken loose with this incident.
Now the “victim,” Ragland, is making all kinds of demands. From MyNorthwest.com:
“The victim of the incident, 31-year-old Byron Ragland, suggested at a press conference last week that proper reparations would be for the yogurt shop to fire the two girls, for the shop owner to lose his business license, and for Byron himself to get hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy all the restaurants currently operated by the yogurt shop owner. Oh, and he called the business owner, who is by the way a Filipino-American, a white supremacist.”
Also, from the Seattle Times:
“Ragland, a University of Washington, Tacoma student, called for a boycott of the yogurt shop during a protest outside the store Tuesday, the same day Menchie’s said employees were undergoing their own training. “That’s how you punish white supremacy and anti-black behavior,” he said. “You hit it hard, and you hit it fast right in its pockets.”
The City of Kirkland has issued an apology. Excerpts from their statement:
“Mr. Ragland left Menchie’s feeling that he was unwelcome in Kirkland based on his race. We want to reiterate our sincere apology to Mr. Ragland and all parties for the result of this encounter. On November 17, we initiated an investigation of the incident. In reviewing preliminary findings, we have determined that the arriving officers missed the opportunity to mediate between Mr. Ragland and the shop owner to a better outcome.
The incident at Menchie’s has caused us to ask ourselves many difficult questions about race and inclusion.
In times of difficulty, we turn to our values to guide our path forward. In Kirkland, we value being a safe, welcoming and inclusive city.
While our investigation of the incident is not yet completed, we know that this issue goes far beyond the Kirkland Police Department. We want to assure the public that all employees of Kirkland are committed to our values of keeping Kirkland safe, welcoming and inclusive. All of our employees are equally committed to fixing problems when they occur. We do not want to see an incident like this occur at any other business, at City Hall, in our parks, on our sidewalks or at our community centers.
Most importantly, we recognize that achieving a safe, welcoming and inclusive community requires all of us. We need ideas and innovations from our entire community in order to improve. We will be launching a new community outreach strategy that starts with many of the groups that worked closely with us on our previous welcoming and inclusive initiative, and our gun safety and community safety initiative.”
Also it turns out that the city has mandated that ALL employees will receive “implicit bias” training. The City Council will partake in the training as well.
The City is also reviewing their policies and practices related to “unwanted person” and “trespass” dispatch calls.
Just my two cents: If you are going to do “supervisory/surveillance” work, you might want to blend in and not call attention to yourself. If you are going to be hanging out at a private business it wouldn’t hurt you to buy a drink so you aren’t considered “suspicious” or accused of trespassing/loitering.
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