Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump announced on Wednesday that a lawsuit against Waffle House Corp. has been filed on behalf of Chikesia Clemons, a Black woman who was roughed up during an arrest at one of the eateries locations in Saraland, Alabama last year.
Standing outside for a press conference at the Richard B. Russell Federal Building in Atlanta, Crump said he filed the civil rights lawsuit “based on a pattern and practice of racism and discrimination against African Americans that led to Chikesia Clemons, an unarmed, Black woman, assaulted, and battered and body slammed and choked and disrobed at the Waffle House restaurant in Saraland, Alabama.”
Clemons was arrested and was found guilty of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in April 2018. Her arrest made national headlines after a video of her being manhandled by three responding Saraland police officers inside the Waffle House went viral. In the clip, Clemons is shown being wrestled to the ground in what both the public and activists believe was a clear incident of police brutality.
“We will not allow this to be swept under the rug and that’s why we are standing here with the National Council of Incarcerated Women… to stand for justice for Chikesia Clemons.”
After the video sparked outrage on social media, Rev. Al Sharpton and activist Tamika Mallory went to Alabama on separate occasions to raise funds for her legal defense and advocate on Clemons’ behalf. Crump was later hired to take on her case.
Crump said during the press conference that Waffle House needs to be held accountable.
“We are seeing a pattern and practice of more bold discrimination against people of color. It is almost as if there is, from our leadership in this country, a license to be bold with discrimination and racism.”
“We have to say America we are better than this,” Crump declared.
“Chikesia Clemons deserves equal justice under the law. She deserves all the respect and consideration of any customer that walks into a Waffle House. And if you won’t respect our Black women, then Waffle House, do not expect our Black dollars.”
Also joining Crump was Catherine Sevcenko, senior counsel, National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, who said that Clemons suffers from PTSD, headaches, and nightmares as a reuslt of the traumatic ordeal. Sevcenko also revealed that Clemons moved to Florida because of a barrage of death threats after the incident.
“This is not something she is just going to be able to shrug off,” Sevcenko said.
“And that is part of why we filed this lawsuit because we ant Waffle House to understand just exactly what they have done to her.”