The matter of the Saraland Waffle House is similar to the Starbucks incident in only one way — the police were called.
Surrounding the call to police at Starbucks were circumstances different from those at the Saraland restaurant. At Starbucks, the police were called after some black men refused to leave. These black men were arrested, handcuffed and removed from Starbucks. They did not resist arrest nor did they make overtures of any type to the Starbucks staff.
The Saraland incident differs considerably. A video that was recorded does not carry the full extent of the conversation initiated by police. It only shows a seated black woman tussling with a single white police officer who is seated beside her. We do not hear the police tell the woman that she is under arrest.
We didn’t hear it in the Starbucks video either. In the Saraland incident, the police had apparently said something to the women because she was agitated and resisting their efforts to control her. Unlike the Starbucks incident, the Saraland incident became a physical altercation. Both incidents were viewed widely on social media and national news.
If and when confronted by the police, do not resist! Comply with directions from police and shut up! At Starbucks the black men complied. They did not resist. They also did not shut up. They were detained and taken to jail. In Saraland, the black woman resisted. She did not comply with directions. She did not shut up. She was forcibly subdued and taken to jail. Had she read and adhered to recommendations, then the physical altercation is less likely to have occurred.
Many who saw the physical altercation on the floor of the Waffle House were disturbed the woman’s breasts were exposed. Let’s not be distracted in our concern about this altercation. The police were under absolutely no obligation to protect the woman’s modesty.
What was required was that they prevent her from doing harm to others, herself or the officers. Disorderly conduct, failure to obey a police officer, assault on a police officer — she’ll probably face those charges and be forced to answer to them long before she can complain about how she was treated.
As for boycotts, don’t. Most of the working staff are black, single parents who were verbally threatened. The restaurant policies do not allow them to confront customers and only the shift manager has any discretion whatsoever in handling customer complaints. A boycott would harm more black families and folk who did nothing to this woman.
Last thing: If black elected officials outside of Saraland sought information from Saraland police, they did so to acquire facts and information knowing full well that Saraland might share information only as a courtesy and that anything shared might be subject to constraints associated with Saraland’s own police investigation of the restaurant incident.
Neither the Alabama Legislature as a complete body nor any of its members have the authority to compel Saraland officials to do anything without first passing some statewide law or law of specific application regarding incidents such as was visited at the Saraland restaurant.