Activists threaten lawsuit after black man booted from yogurt shop while doing his job

Byron Ragland (Credit: KIRO)

Activists in the Seattle area are letting one local business know that sometimes an apology just simply isn’t enough.

According to the Seattle Times, this week civil rights advocates threatened to file a lawsuit after a Black man was told by police to leave a Kirkland yogurt shop after employees said he made them feel uncomfortable.

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A Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt franchise in Kirkland, Wash., was closed Tuesday as protestors, including Bellevue-based civil-rights attorney James Bible stood outside.

The store’s management posted a page long message on its front door not only apologizing but also explaining that employees were undergoing a training to prevent a similar incident of racial profiling from ever happening again. But the protestors, who were organized by the NAACP of Seattle-King County, say those actions weren’t enough considering both state and federal discrimination laws were violated.

As previously reported on Nov. 7, Byron Ragland, who works as a court-appointed visitation supervisor, was supervising a meeting between a mother and her son, when the store owner called 911 to report him as a suspicious person.

Even though the man was peacefully sitting in the establishment and causing no disturbance, Kirkland police officers responded to the ambiguous complaint by telling Ragland he had to leave.

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According to Bible, a lawsuit could compensate Ragland, who is a military veteran and a student at the University of Washington, for the way he was publicly shamed while sending a strong message to other businesses in the area.

“Thank goodness Mr. Ragland was actually a military veteran. Thank goodness he was actually a court-appointed advocate. Thank goodness he was, and is, a student of the University of Washington. Because if he was just a worker from across the street, he still would be perceived differently and the reality is it shouldn’t be that way,” Bible said.

Police along with the the City of Kirkland issued an apology on Monday for backing the franchise’s owner when Ragland was told to leave.

“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. “As a result, Mr. Ragland and the other individuals with him were left feeling unwelcome in Kirkland. No one regrets this more than the men and women of the Kirkland Police Department. We are truly sorry.”

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