Photo | Lagniappe
A day after more than 100 people marched through the streets of Saraland in her name, Chikesia Clemons appeared before a judge in Mobile on an unrelated harassment charge from 2017.
Clemons has been at the center of a national controversy after cellphone video of her arrest April 22 at a Saraland Waffle House went viral online. Her supporters say Clemons, who is black, was “manhandled” by the three white Saraland Police Department officers who arrested her.
In the video, Clemons is taken to the ground, and in an ensuing scuffle with police her breasts became exposed over the top of her shirt. An officer also tells Clemons, “I’m about to break your arm” after she asks what he’s doing, which has been a point of contention among the SPD’s critics.
Clemons’ family says police were called after she tried to file a corporate complaint over a disagreement about a 50-cent charge for plastic utensils, but SPD maintains Clemons and two friends were drunk and disorderly, threatened employees and refused to the leave the restaurant.
They also say she was taken to the ground and became exposed because she resisted arrest.
Clemons will make her first appearance in Saraland’s municipal court June 20, where she’ll face charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest stemming from the April 22 incident. Her supporters and attorneys have repeatedly demanded the charges be dropped.
Earlier this week, Clemons was cleared of charges stemming from a 2017 incident in Mobile. On Monday, May 21, she appeared before Judge Charles Graddick in Mobile municipal court to face charges from a July 2017 incident at a Dauphin Street gas station.
According to a police report from the incident, Clemons’ offenses were written up as theft and harassment. A spokesperson for the Mobile Police Department previously said the victim, who is listed a black female, told police she and Clemons began fighting after a verbal altercation.
She also told the MPD Clemons stole her phone and wallet, though Clemons was only formally charged with harassment when she was arrested over the incident in February 2018.
Prosecutors agreed to drop the charge after the victim, who wasn’t identified, failed to show up for court this week. Her criminal attorney, Marcus Foxx, informed Graddick that Clemons had also paid fines associated with two traffic tickets issued by MPD when she was arrested.
Ahead of her June court date in Saraland, Clemons is continuing to receive support from the across the United States, including some from national figures that have also expressed outrage over how she was treated by SPD officers.
Civil rights activist and television show host Rev. Al Sharpton came to Mobile to speak on behalf of the Clemons family and to raise money for her earlier this month. The march on Sunday was attended by Yandy Smith, one of the stars of VH1’s “Love & Hip Hop,” as well as Tamika Mallory, who is one of the main organizers of the national Women’s March.
That event, at which protesters marched for two miles to the Waffle House where Clemons was arrested, saw more than a hundred attendees and was led by attorney Benjamin Crump, who has spoken on behalf of Clemons and her family since the April 22 incident occurred.
While there were some verbal confrontations with SPD supporters along the route and customers eating at the Waffle House when protesters arrived, no arrests were reported following Sunday’s event. Multiple SPD vehicles escorted protesters along their route.
As others have previously, the protesters Sunday demanded Waffle House, the victim of Clemons’ alleged crimes, drop all charges against her and terminate the employees who called the police on her. They’ve demanded the SPD officers involved in her arrest be fired as well.
Despite the national attention, Waffle House has stood by its employees, even as a number of unrelated events elsewhere have fueled persistent calls for a national boycott of the diner chain.
The SPD has also been tight-lipped about the situation aside from a brief news conference held the day after Clemons’ arrest went viral online. No indication has been given that SPD intends to take disciplinary action against its officers, and it has so far refused to identify them publicly.