Newswire : Waffle House doubles down on Chikesia Clemons arrest as activists call for boycott

The chain continued to defend Saraland. Alabama employees and police in a violent arrest that has sparked outrage.

By Jenna Amatulli , Huffington Post
Chikesia Clemmons.png

Chikesia Clemmons

Activists protested at Waffle House’s Atlanta headquarters on Monday, demanding the restaurant chain drop charges against customer Chikesia Clemons, who was violently arrested at an Alabama location on April 22.
Waffle House, however, doubled down on its defense of employees who called the police, and claimed Clemons was threatening the workers with violence.
The activists, including those representing causes like March for Our Lives, the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, and the NAACP, asked Waffle House to withdraw charges against Clemons, who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest according to local officials. The activists also asked Waffle House to release video of the incident that “will prove officers threatened Ms. Clemons,” issue a statement rebuking the mishandling of Clemons and take “disciplinary action” against employees involved.
The activists called for a nationwide boycott of Waffle House beginning on Friday.
Clemons, 25, was in a Waffle House in Saraland, Alabama, north of Mobile, with a friend when three police officers, summoned by employees, forced her to the floor, exposing her breasts, and handcuffed her, according to a video taken by Clemons’ friend that has since gone viral. Police said Clemons and her friend were drunk and brought alcohol into the restaurant. Clemons, they said, told officers she would “shoot this place up.”
Waffle House quickly released a statement defending the “appropriate” actions of the Saraland Police Department.
On Monday in Atlanta, Waffle House spokesman Pat Warner told demonstrators the chain’s employees are specifically trained to contact police “anytime there is concern about their personal safety or that of their customers.”
“Previously, we stated that upon reviewing security video and eyewitness statements, it was our belief that our associates calling the police was necessary and appropriate,” the company said in a statement.
“In the days since, we have gathered additional details and information. Witnesses say several threats were made to our associates including threats of violence, and that’s why the police were called.” Police have said they are investigating actions of the officers involved.
Clemons herself spoke publicly for the first time on Sunday, appearing on the MSNBC show “PoliticsNation” with the Rev. Al Sharpton.
Clemons said the arrest has been “so hard” on her. “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’m constantly crying. I have a 6-year-old daughter, I’m trying to be strong for her,” she said.
“She sees me crying, she starts to cry, so it’s very hard on me at the time right now.”
Clemons expressed gratitude to those supporting and defending her. “I ask you guys continue to be behind me as you fight for justice for me,” she said.
Her attorney, Benjamin Crump, told Sharpton: “There are two independent white women who were in the restaurant that night that said what the waitress did, and, more importantly, what the Saraland police did, Reverend Al, was just unacceptable.”
Clemons was arrested the same day that another Waffle House location outside Nashville, Tennessee, was the scene of a mass shooting. The lone gunman shot four people to death and injured two others.

Anger grows in Tulsa as police release video of fatal shooting of unarmed black man

By: Kristi Eaton and Jaweed Kaleem, Los Angeles Times


tulsa-police-photoIn this photo from a Sept. 16 police video, Terence Crutcher, left, is followed by police in Tulsa, Okla., moments before an officer shot and killed him. (Tulsa Police Department)

terrance-crutcher-with-his-sister-tiffany-crutcherTerrance Crutcher with his sister, Tiffany Crutcher


A fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer has reopened fresh wounds in this city with a fraught history among African Americans, white residents and police officers.

A graphic police video shows Terence Crutcher, 40, being fatally shot by a police officer Friday night as he walks with his hands up toward his SUV, stalled out in the middle of the road.

The incident quickly became the latest flashpoint in a string of controversial police shootings of Black Americans. Protesters chanted Tuesday evening in downtown Tulsa, the ACLU asked that criminal charges be filed against the officer, and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said news of the shooting was “unbearable.”

“We have got to tackle systemic racism,” Clinton said on “The Steve Harvey Morning Show.” “This horrible shooting again. How many times do we have to see this in our country?”

An attorney for Officer Betty Shelby, who shot Crutcher after responding to a dispatch call about an abandoned car, said Crutcher failed to heed police commands and that she and another officer, Tyler Turnbough, felt threatened and fired simultaneously. Turnbough used a stun gun.

The city’s police chief, who released both helicopter and dash-cam video of the shooting, called the images “disturbing” and vowed to “achieve justice.”

Protesters quickly demanded that Shelby to be fired, and the Crutcher family called for criminal charges against the officer, who has been put on routine administrative leave. The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation and local authorities are independently investigating the shooting.

The last night of life for Crutcher, a father of four who was on his way home from a class at Tulsa Community College, began with a pair of 911 calls reporting an abandoned car with its engine running and doors open in the middle of the road.

“I got out and was like, ‘Do you need help?’ reported one caller, who said Crutcher “took off running” after asking her to “come here, come here,” and saying the car was going to “blow up.”

“I think he’s smoking something,” the same caller said.

Police videos show Crutcher walking toward his SUV with his hands up. Four officers, three male and one female, approach Crutcher he walks to the driver’s side and seems to lower his hands and put them on the car. The dash-cam video is blocked by officers, and Crutcher is partially blocked by his own car in the the helicopter video, making it difficult to see his movements. A man in the helicopter video suggests it’s “time for a Taser” before saying, “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”

Within seconds, Crutcher drops to the ground. “Shots fired!” a woman yells on police radio as officers slowly back away while holding their guns up. Officers wait more than two minutes before approaching Crutcher again.

He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Police say the videos did not capture Shelby arriving on the scene because she did not turn her dash cam on.

Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, says that when she showed up and asked Crutcher whether the car was his, he did not respond. Crutcher put his hands in his pockets as he walked toward her, then removed them and put his hands up before walking toward the back of her patrol car and putting his hands back in his pockets, Wood said.

He said she planned to arrest Crutcher, who she thought was intoxicated, and called dispatch. Crutcher did not comply when Shelby took out her gun and told him to get on his knees, but instead walked toward his car, the attorney said.

Wood said Shelby fired her gun at the same time that Turnbough fired a Taser at Crutcher because she had “tunnel vision” and did not realize other officers had arrived on scene.

“When unarmed people of color break down on the side of the road, we’re not treated as citizens needing help. We’re treated as, I guess, criminals — suspects that they fear,” said Benjamin Crump, one of the attorneys representing the Crutcher family.