A Facebook video of white police officers wrestling a black woman to the ground and cuffing her in the middle of a Waffle House is sparking outrage in the town of Saraland, Alabama and now across the country.
Canita Adams, of Saraland, wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post that she and her friend Chikesia Clemons, who is black, went to a Waffle House restaurant Sunday morning and asked for plasticware.
Clemons’ mother Chiquitta Clemons-Howard told AL.com a female employee told her daughter that plastic silverware cost 50 cents extra, and that Clemons told the employee they had eaten there a previous night and not been charged.
Clemons-Howard told the site the employee canceled her daughter’s order and Clemons then asked for a district manager’s phone number, after which police were called.
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"They didn't even ask her to leave, she was waiting for them to give her the district manager's card so she could file a complaint on one of the waitresses," Clemons-Howard told the site. "When they went to go get the card, that's when the police showed up. The officer should've come in and said we need you to leave."
In the video, which was edited by news outlets, a police officer, who is white, appears to put his hand on Clemons' right wrist as she sits in a chair near the exit. Clemons can be heard protesting, saying she only asked for the corporate number.
Clemons was then thrown to the ground, AL.com reported. The video shows the officers trying to roll her onto her stomach. Part of her dress slips down in the scuffle, exposing her chest.
What are you doing?" she asks, before an officer says something about her arm.
"You're about to break her arm?" Clemons' friend says.
Police continue to struggle to roll her onto her stomach before the video cuts to show two officers holding her down and one officer handcuffing her.
“Do you want to come fix her clothes?” an officer asks Adams before the video ends.
News of the video spread rapidly across social media.
"It's fair to say that the information we have received at this point differs significantly from what has reportedly been attributed to Ms. Clemons and strongly supports the actions taken by the Saraland Police Department," Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner said.
The video was originally posted to Facebook but appears to have been deleted. Adams denied deleting the video herself on her Facebook profile, so it is likely the video was deleted by Facebook itself for showing nudity.
AL.com reported that Clemens was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and posted a $1,000 bail later that morning.
The video prompted a response from the Mobile NAACP President David Smith, who wrote that the organization would be taking “a closer look” and would “move the matter to whatever level is appropriate," according to a news release.
“What I want actually is to get justice for my daughter in this case. I don’t feel like she was treated fairly,” her mother said at an NAACP meeting, according to Fox 10.
A councilman from the nearby city of Prichard went live on Facebook several times after discovering the video and went to the police department looking for answers, WKRG reported.
The Saraland Police Department issued a statement on its Facebook page saying it was “aware” of the arrest video.
“The situation is being thoroughly reviewed and is under active investigation right now. Our department strives for transparency and we encourage our community to be aware of current events,” the statement reads. “Saraland’s public safety director, Chief J. C. West, and the mayor are aware of the situation and are awaiting the results of the investigation. When the facts of the investigation are gathered, we will have a response.”
A group of protesters peacefully gathered both outside and inside the Waffle House after the NAACP meeting until Saraland police arrived, according to Fox 10. Another person was arrested at the protest, according to the station.
Police later defended their actions, saying the woman was disorderly and threatened employees.
The incident is especially timely after Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson apologized to two black men who were arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting to meet with a white businessman. The company announced days later that thousands of stores would briefly close for racial-bias training.