Plans are underway for a mass boycott against Waffle House that will include a unique sit-in demonstration over the violent, quasi-sexual arrest of a Black woman at an Alabama location last month. Chikesia Clemons, 25, was wrestled the to ground by three White officers in a Saraland restaurant, causing her breasts to be exposed before she was choked and an officer threatened to break her arm on April 22.
Even though the entire episode was recorded on a video that has since gone viral, Waffle House management has defended the arrest that seemed to violate several of Clemons’ civil rights, prompting the economic boycott that will create a tough dilemma for the restaurant chain.
The Atlanta branch of the Black Lives Matter collective called for a nationwide boycott of Waffle House for this coming Friday and asked protesters to buy a drink for a low price and sip it very slowly at tables and counters at restaurants during peak business hours, Al.com reported. The move will force management to either call police to remove law abiding, paying customers or outright refuse service.
Either way would constitute a civil rights violation and both would likely cause each location affected to lose money it otherwise ouwld have earned during those weak business hours.
Calling the police to remove the protesters would cause a public relations nightmare when images of the arrests circulate online and through the media. In doing so, the demonstrators would shine a spotlight on the unjust treatment of Black people.
This comes with anger still hot over the arrest of two African-American men at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12. The men were sitting in the coffee shop waiting for a friend when an employee called the cops to have them removed for not buying anything.
The other option, refusing to serve the demonstrators, will prompt scores of civil rights lawsuits. And by doing nothing, the sit-ins will hit restaurants hard financially if the demonstrators occupy tables all day.
It was initially reported that a Waffle House employee called the police after a dispute with Clemons over charging $0.50 cents for plasticware. The officers charged Clemons with disorderly conduct.
Waffle House is standing by its employee. “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 restaurant said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a coalition of activists, including the NAACP and Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, called for the restaurant to take disciplinary action against the employee. They also want criminal charges against Clemons dropped and the release of audio from the security camera footage.
A group of activists demonstrated peacefully at the Waffle House headquarters in Norcross, Georgia on Monday, FOX 5 Atlanta reported. The company invited about 15 to 20 of the activists to see the surveillance video, but they remained unmoved after viewing the video.