A group of activists and organized civil rights leaders gathered Friday at Waffle House headquarters in Norcross to protest what they call the wrongful arrests of black patrons earlier this year.
Chikesia Clemons was arrested at a restaurant in Alabama and Anthony Wall was arrested in North Carolina. Both believe the police were only called because of the color of their skin.
"Both these individuals, Chikesia and Anthony, now have criminal records," David Johns, with the National Black Justice Coalition, said. "They have court dates. They have things that they now have to account for in their lives while people at Waffle House go about their business."
The black patrons in each situation confronted Waffle House employees. Clemons said she asked to speak to a manager after being told she'd have to pay extra for plastic utensils.
After Wall said an employee cursed at him and his 16-year-old sister about the dirtiness of their table, refusing to serve them, another worker called police on Wall.
While protesters previously called for a boycott of the chain restaurant, now they want justice, charges to be dismissed and sensitivity training for Waffle House employees.
When Clemons was arrested, police exposed her breasts in the restaurant as a friend recorded the encounter. Officers in both video encounters had hands around the necks of Wall and Clemons.
Johns said Wall was thrown against the ground and abused by police in a way that irreparably changed his life, after only trying to go to Waffle House with his sister after prom.
"What we're clear about is that this is endemic," Johns said. "Waffle House can not say this is simply rogue employees acting in ways that are inconsistent with their company policies or practices."
He said black people "should not pay to have people inflict pain upon us" and called again for a boycott.
— Ellen Eldridge (@EllenEldridge27) June 15, 2018
In addition to the National Black Justice Coalition, Women’s March, Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, Alliance for Black Lives, Justice for Chikesia Clemons and Rally for Black Lives activists issued a petition demanding the Saraland Police Department and the Warsaw Police Department to drop all charges against Clemons and Wall, and offer them a public apology.
More than 5,000 people signed the petition to hold Waffle House accountable for condoning police brutality, discrimination and sexual abuse against Clemons and Wall.
— Women's March (@womensmarch) June 15, 2018