KIRKLAND, Wash. -- A protest took place Tuesday morning outside of a Menchie's frozen yogurt store in Kirkland, where a black court advocate who was supervising a court-ordered visitation was asked to leave by police for being an "unwanted subject."
Byron Ragland, a 31-year-old military veteran who now works as a court-appointed advocate, arrived at Menchie's with the mother and child he was supervising. They were there for about 30 minutes before police arrived and asked him to "move along."
“They asked me to leave,” Ragland told The Seattle Times. “They asked for my ID. They told me the manager had been watching me and wanted me to move along.”
Ragland heeded the officers' orders, even though he told them he was legally required to be there for the visitation between the mother and her 12-year-old son, according to The Times.
The police report shows that employees had called the store manager and told him that Ragland was making them uncomfortable. The employees said he had been there for a while and had not purchased anything. The report also shows that officers were told Ragland was there working, but that wasn't enough, Ragland told The Times.
The Kirkland Police Department issued a statement and apology to Ragland after reviewing the incident.
"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. As a result, Mr. Ragland and the other individuals with him were left feeling unwelcome in Kirkland."
Now, civil rights groups are stepping in to highlight the incident. A rally and protest will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday outside of Menchie's.
Ragland will be joined by the Seattle King County NAACP and members of the Washington State Civil Rights Coalition.
“From Starbucks in Philadelphia to Menchie’s in Kirkland, black people are continuously racially profiled across this country where police are called to further facilitate acts of racism at the expense of African-American men and women," said Gerald Hankerson, president of the Seattle King County NAACP. "The NAACP is reminded of the days in history where blacks were not allowed to sit at counters nor patronize businesses without the risk of being racially profiled simply because they are black. All it takes is for a single white person to claim fear or intimidation before law enforcement become its advocate and further perpetuate injustice.”