National Civil Rights attorney, Ben Crump, during a press conference on Wednesday, April 25, said that a young African American woman arrested at a Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama was “assaulted,” “choked” and “brutalized by police.” Crump held the conference to counteract the one given by the Saraland Police Department on April 23, where facts about the incident were given and it was concluded that the actions of three Saraland officers against 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons were justifiable. Not so, said Crump whose services have been obtained by Clemons’ mother, rather that Clemons was attacked immediately upon police arrival, being slammed to the ground and threatened with bodily injury.
Crump and officials from the NAACP legal defense fund didn’t officially call for a boycott of the Waffle House, but did say they wanted to look into whether this incident was indicative of a pattern at the eatery. They noted that some African American patrons at a Waffle House in Oklahoma had been asked to pay for food ahead of it being prepared. If proven to be a pattern, they said that Americans should question whether to patronize such an establishment.
“If you care about Black women, you need to fill their inbox and tell Waffle House that this is unacceptable,” said Crump. “This all started because their waitress, who is their representative, discriminated against these young, Black people. We have to say that we will take our business elsewhere and refuse to give you our hard-earned money and allow you to treat our women like this.”
The incident began when Clemons asked for plastic utensils, which are reportedly free with Waffle House orders, and was told she would have to pay for them. Clemons asked to speak to management but police were called instead. Employees said that Clemons, along with another woman and a man had been drunk and disorderly and had been yelling at the wait staff.
But Crump said he obtained sworn statements from two White witnesses he said, who contradicted that story. Witness Mandy Sullivan said in her statement that the waitress told “a lady in white that she needed to leave because she was not serving her.”
“The waitress told the lady in white that she needed to leave because she was not serving her. The lady who was arrested got her friend to go outside and was trying to de-escalate the situation. There was no mention of alcohol being brought into the restaurant nor any mention of a gun or any type of weapon.”
“I don’t remember what the waitress originally said to the lady who got arrested later, but she said something so rude, to make the girl who got arrested upset. The girl who got arrested stated in short that she just wanted the number to the corporate office and that she was not trying to be difficult.”
Cell phone footage taken by Clemons’ friend shows officers choking Clemons and leaving her breast exposed.
The Saraland Police Department maintains that race played no role in Clemons’ arrest. However, Crump said he strongly believes otherwise.
“Women are disrespected so often,” Crump said.
“And, these officers assaulted her, threatened her, choked her and exposed her with no evidence whatsoever. They give young, White men who are confirmed murderers more respect and consideration than they did for this unarmed Black woman. This is a beautiful young sister, mother… if we don’t stand up for this young sister, then shame on us all.”