Three weeks after an Alabama woman had her breasts exposed in a violent scuffle and arrest at a Waffle House, calls have intensified to boycott the iconic chain now that video of another incident – of a North Carolina man being choked and slammed by a police officer – has surfaced.
Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. tweeted Thursday to “Stay out of Waffle House until the corporate office commits” to a discussion on racism and employee training.
King, the CEO of the King Center, posted a second tweet about the previous Alabama incident, concluding it with the question, “Do Black Lives Matter?”
“This is an epidemic of the culture around Waffle House,” said Gerald Griggs, an Atlanta attorney and activist, who has been leading a series of restaurant demonstrations since May 4.
Griggs said that he is encouraging an “economic disruption.”
“This clearly shows a climate of that corporation that is insensitive to people of color and it needs to be addressed immediately,” Griggs said. “It is our hope that they will be responsive and adjust the culture.”
Pat Warner, a spokesman for the chain, which has 1,900 restaurants in 25 states including more than 400 in Georgia, said he welcomes conversations with anybody, including Griggs and King.
He added that the company has already launched extensive investigations into the two incidents and spoke directly with a woman from a third high profile incident, where she claimed that another Alabama Waffle House intentionally locked her out.
In the Pinson, Ala. incident, Warner said an employee at the restaurant “panicked” because only two people were working, and a large group had just left: “She got behind, panicked and locked the door. That should not have happened. She should not have locked the door.”
“As anybody knows who has eaten with us, we are proud of our diverse workforce and customers. We pride ourselves on that,” said Warner, the director of public relations and external affairs for Waffle House. “We know folks are upset, but our stance is we would be proud to talk to you about it. These incidents are high profile, but we encourage everybody to get all the facts.”
Waffle House was also the site of a violent Tennessee shooting on April 22 that left four people dead, before James Shaw Jr. disarmed the shooter.
In a Facebook video that was posted May 8 on Facebook, a Warsaw, N.C. police officer is shown choking and slamming 22-year-old Anthony Wall to the ground.
Wall was dressed in a tuxedo with a gold vest. He had just returned from taking his 16-year-old sister to the prom. The 27-second video does not show any incident leading up to the arrest. Nor does it show the aftermath.
In describing the video to a North Carolina television station, Wall said: "I was pretty much trying to scream for air and trying to breathe because he was holding my throat and that's when I got aggressive with him because you are choking me."
In the same television interview, Wall admits arguing inside the restaurant with Waffle House employees. He was charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct for arguing with Waffle House employees.
The Wall video comes on the heels of the April 22 arrest of 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons at a restaurant in Saraland, Ala. Video of the incident shows Clemons, who is black, being thrown to the ground and having her breasts exposed during a scuffle with several police officers.
Griggs is already planning a demonstration for 9 a.m. Saturday at a Waffle House on Cobb Parkway across from SunTrust Park. He said Chikesia Clemons will be there.