Black Air Force Veteran Told To "Move Along" By Cops For Sitting Inside A Seattle Frozen Yogurt Shop
“They asked for my ID. They told me the manager had been watching me and wanted me to move along.”
Byron Ragland is a nine-year U.S. Air Force veteran who entered a Seattle frozen yogurt shop last week with a white woman and her son. Ragland is a court-appointed special advocate and a visitation supervisor, which means he's legally supposed to supervise adults who have lost custody of their children.
On the day in question, the young boy wanted ice cream so Ragland drove all three of them to a frozen yogurt franchise called Menchie’s. The trio was at the store for about 90 minutes when two Kirkland police officers arrived and asked Ragland to “move along.”
“They asked me to leave,” Ragland said recounting the incident with a reporter from The Seattle Times. “They asked for my ID. They told me the manager had been watching me and wanted me to move along.”
Store owner Ramon Cruz wasn't there but placed the 911 call on behalf of his two white female employees. "They’re kind of scared because he looks suspicious,” Cruz tells the dispatcher. “All he does is look at his phone, look at them, look at his phone, look at them."
Ragland said he's used to people questioning why he, as a black man is with white families, and would've offered an explanation, had someone asked. However, no one asked him. Instead, officers arrived and forced him, along with the unidentified mother and son to leave as well.
Cruz alleges the call had nothing to do with race because Ragland was sitting adjacent to the mother and son. “This is not racial profiling, though,” Cruz said. “I mean I’m Asian, I experience the same thing. It was a misunderstanding, which sometimes do happen.”
After the reporter played the 911 call for Ragland, he admitted he was overcome with a bevy of emotions.
“You want to stand up for yourself, as a man, or as someone who was just doing his job and say ‘hey, this isn’t right,’ ” he said. “But in the moment I’m thinking: ‘I’m a black man, and If I start emoting, I might not walk out of here.’ And so you rationalize to yourself: ‘What’s the big deal, it’s just Menchie’s, just leave.’ But then later, you realize that you gave in — that you consented that this is the way it’s going to be, to always be.
“Living this kind of mental life will drive a person insane,” he added.