Police Handcuff and Humiliate Black Woman at an Alabama Waffle House

Waffle House is facing a public relations problem — one that Starbucks might find familiar — after Chikesia Clemons, a black woman, was brutally arrested at an Alabama outpost of the beloved franchise on April 22.

The incident was caught on video, and footage shows police behaving extremely violently with Clemons in the course of her arrest for disorderly conduct.

Waffle House and the Saraland police have remained relatively tightlipped about the incident, but according to Clemons’ mother, the dispute started when she was charged for plastic utensils with a to-go order. Clemons said she had never been charged before, and the employee canceled the whole order in response. That prompted Clemons to ask for the district manager’s contact information so she could file a complaint.

Next, three police officers showed up, wrestling her to the ground. On the way, they pulled her tube top down, exposing her breasts to the entire restaurant, threatened to break her arm and choked her.

Clemons has since been released on bail, but the video quickly went viral, leading to a protest at the restaurant later that day that resulted in one arrest.

Waffle House claims that the public doesn’t have information about the incident that would justify the police response – but that boggles the mind.

What possible suspicion of wrongdoing could merit pulling a woman’s top down, leaving her humiliated with her breasts exposed to a room full of people? Under what circumstances should police officers ever use a chokehold in an attempt to restrain someone? When it is appropriate to threaten to break someone’s arm in the course of an arrest?

Even if there is missing information here — and even if calling the police was warranted — that doesn’t excuse Clemons’ treatment at the hands of police. This incident has become yet another example of the dangers of eating while black, showing that bias leads to calling law enforcement rather than trying to resolve disputes peacefully. It also illustrates how racist attitudes amongst law enforcement officers can drive aggressive assaults on members of the public.

Bystander intervention has clear value in situations like this one. The cost of standing up to cops is much lower for white people than it is for people of color. And that’s why it’s a good idea for white bystanders to volunteer to film incidents, as they’re less likely to be harassed.

White people should also say something when police are clearly using excessive force, behaving inappropriately and abusing their power. We already know that law enforcement in the United States has a long history of violence –  including sexual violence – and one person’s voice in opposition at the right moment can be powerful.

The Saraland Police Department has issued a statement about the situation, claiming that they are investigating and will have a “response” after gathering the facts. Given the public attention focused on both Waffle House and the police at the moment, they had better prepared to face considerable scrutiny over their conclusions.

Take Action!

Join fellow activists in calling for the Saraland Police Department to make good on their promise of a thorough, thoughtful and transparent investigation. Sign this Care2 petition to demand real consequences for the officers involved.

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Photo Credit: rob_rob2001/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

Brian F
Brian F10 months ago

This women came in the Waffle House drunk, made threats and verbally abused staff. She deserved to be arrested. She brought it on herself. Racism was not the reason she was arrested.

Camilla V
Camilla Vaga10 months ago


Jaime J
Jaime J10 months ago

Thank you!!

Brian F
Brian F10 months ago

I hate the police who make $55,000 a year and retire with large pensions, which drains our taxes, but in this incident, it appears the blacks involved were drunk, and making threats to the staff. Judging from the body lanquage, of the black women, it confirms this in the video. Many young blacks do act like thugs, and have a sense if entitlement. This is not racism, its just a fact, and that's exactly what we saw here. These blacks came into the Waffle House drunk, were loud and rude, and told to leave. They refused and threatened the staff. Even though the audio is absent, the video clearly shows this happened.

Thomas Lindsey
Thomas L11 months ago

This whole country has become more violent on both sides of the law.

Past Member
Past Member 11 months ago


Sharon S
Sharon S11 months ago

@ Chrissie R-I understand your POV, however listening to/watching the video, the violence was excessive. Threatening to break her arm, that shows violent intent. It has to stop.

Chrissie R
Chrissie R11 months ago

Let's see/hear BOTH sides of the story before we draw conclusions and jump to judgement.

Brian F
Brian F11 months ago

Its amazing how the police are always right, followed proper protocol, and committed nothing wrong. The problem is that they have lied so many times in the past. Without any audio in their videos, their is no way they can prove the people were drunk, loud, and threatening staff at the Waffle House, with abusive language. Unless the police can produce a compelling video with full audio, of the incident that proves their assertion, we can only conclude they are lying as they usually do.