Woman arrested at Alabama Waffle House in plastic utensils dispute
A black woman who was taken to the ground and had her breasts exposed by police in an Alabama Waffle House earlier in the year was found guilty Monday night, WKRG reported. On Twitter, she said her lawyer had filed an appeal.
The woman, Chikesia Clemons, became the center of a national controversy after a viral video showed Saraland, Ala., police wrestling her to the ground inside a Waffle House restaurant and causing her breasts to become exposed.
Clemons’ mother Chiquitta Clemons-Howard told AL.com that police were called after Clemons and her friend complained about being asked to pay extra because they wanted plastic utensils.
“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.”
Video captured Clemons’ arrest.
In the video, which was edited by news outlets and previously reported by McClatchy, 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 sparked protests at the location and demands for Waffle House to apologize. Reverend Al Sharpton traveled to the area a few days later and demanded consequences for the officers, WALA reported.
“They saw a black woman, and they thought they could get away with it, and we here to let them know you will not get away with it,” Sharpton said at an event focused on the arrest, according to the station. “When I saw what they did to her, that could have been my daughter, that could be your daughter and let me tell you something, if we let this go, it will be your daughter.”
Police defended their actions and said Clemons was drunk, disorderly and threatened employees after she was asked to leave.
“Words were used towards the employees such as f***, b*****, calling women wh****. They told the Waffle House employees that I’ll come over this counter and beat your f****** a**, b**** I’m gonna have your job, you ain’t gonna be here tomorrow. Why you was in my business? I may have a gun, I may have anything, I can come back here and shoot this place up if I need to,” a detective said, according to WALA.
Saraland mayor Howard Rubenstein said he remained “totally supportive of our officers and the Saraland Police Department,” at the time, Lagniappe Mobile reported. Waffle House also released a statement saying its employees did the right thing by calling police because witnesses said “several threats were made to our associates including threats of violence,” ABC News reported.
A petition asking Waffle House to drop the charges against Clemons and apologize to her gained nearly 16,000 signatures.
On Monday night, Saraland Municipal Court Judge C Mark Erwing sentenced Clemons to pay a $200 fine and court fees on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and to serve 10 days in jail, though the jail sentence would be suspended for one year of informal probation, WKRG reported.
The judge had determined that the facts of the case merited the verdict and had “nothing to do with the high level of emotion” that surrounded it in the previous months, AL.com reported.
Clemons tweeted Tuesday that her heart was “full of rage and anger” and tweeted that her lawyer had filed an appeal.
“I promise to get justice and give others that motivation to stand up and speak up!” she said, and directed followers to a GoFundMe page