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Civil Rights Leaders Are Demanding That Cops Drop Charges Against The Woman Who Was Arrested And Exposed In A Waffle House

Rev. Al Sharpton called cops out for calling the arrest of Chikesia Clemons at an Alabama Waffle House "appropriate" — even though her breasts were exposed.

Posted on May 2, 2018, at 12:34 a.m. ET

Civil rights leaders organized a press conference and town hall in Mobile, Alabama, Tuesday to rally support for Chikesia Clemons, an unarmed black woman who was arrested and disrobed by white police officers at a Waffle House last week.

Chikesia Clemons’ mom is emotional as she talks about how embarrassing it was for her to watch as her daughter got dragged across the #WaffleHouse floor. @weartv https://t.co/a3ahVwcFlb

A cell phone video depicting the arrest was widely shared after the incident, and shows Clemons' breasts being exposed as her strapless top comes off during the struggle with officers. On the video, a cop can be heard threatening to break her arm and an officer is also seen putting his hand on her throat.

The incident drew comparisons to the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks in April, which led both the chief executive of Starbucks and Philadelphia’s police commissioner to apologize. Civil rights advocates have questioned why Clemons' arrest has not received as much attention or action.

Clemons' attorney, Benjamin Crump — a well-known civil rights lawyer known for his work representing Michael Brown and the family of Trayvon Martin — demanded that police drop charges against Clemons, and apologize for their previous statements about her arrest.

.@AttorneyCrump says they are not in Mobile today for sympathy. He says they demand justice. They want charges dropped against Chikesia Clemons, an apology and for the #WaffleHouse to denounce the actions taken against Clemons. @weartv https://t.co/9MPflOBghv

Speaking at Tuesday's press conference — where he appeared with the Rev. Al Sharpton — Crump outlined three demands, including that the disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges filed against Clemons in connection with the incident be dropped.

Crump also requested a public apology from the Saraland Police Department, which responded to the Waffle House incident and has since said that its officers' actions were "appropriate."

"It was not appropriate and it is unacceptable," Crump said. "That's why we are here, because justice requires our presence here."

In the aftermath of Clemons' arrest, Saraland police publicly voiced support for the officers involved, and said that the department would not be taking disciplinary action. In a Facebook post last week, the department said it has an "active investigation" in connection to the incident.

Clemons' friends, family, and lawyers have maintained that the dispute started after a Waffle House employee said Clemons would have to pay 50 cents for plastic utensils, and that she was waiting for the contact information for the regional manager of the Waffle House to make a complaint, when police arrived.

The Saraland Police Department has released information disputing that account, including a 911 call made before the arrest, in which a Waffle House employee says that three individuals had entered the restaurant with alcohol and were drunk. Police said Waffle House employees asked the woman to leave because she had brought alcohol on the premises.

Saraland police also released surveillance footage from inside the restaurant, as well as quotes from witnesses, who they claim said Clemons used profanity and made threats. One witness, cops said, reported hearing: "I may have a gun, I may have anything. I can come back here and shoot this place up if I need to."

Police have not released the names of the three officers involved in the arrest.

On Tuesday, Crump also demanded that Waffle House executives "denounce the gross violations of the civil and human rights to this young, unarmed black women."

Crump added that "many believe [Clemons] was treated much more brutally than the mass murderer who killed the people in the Waffle House in Tennessee" — a reference to Travis Reinking, who is accused of gunning down four people at a Waffle House in Nashville on the same day Clemons was arrested in Alabama.

Waffle House has so far stood behind employees at the Alabama location, despite a heated meeting with civil rights leaders Monday at the chain's Georgia headquarters, where the company showed surveillance footage from the night of Clemons' arrest.

After the soundless surveillance videos were shown, activists said they saw nothing that warranted police intervention or use of force.

In a statement Monday, Waffle House again defended its employees actions. "Witnesses say several threats were made to our associates including threats of violence, and that's why the police were called," Waffle House said in a statement, according to ABC News. The statement also noted that "it has also been reported that the customer made reference to a gun and using that gun."

BuzzFeed News reached out to Waffle House and the Saraland Police Department Tuesday, but did not immediately receive a response.

Meanwhile, in the days after Clemons' arrest, another black woman, Jacinda Mitchell, shared a video on Facebook that she said shows her being denied entry at a Waffle House in Pinson, Alabama, while white customers are being served inside.

Waffle House has said it is investigating the Pinson incident and that the employee there "should not have locked the front door at all."

At Tuesday's press conference, Sharpton condemned Saraland police for calling Clemons' arrest "appropriate" despite video showing her breasts becoming exposed during the encounter, and demanded that the officers involved be disciplined.

.@TheRevAl says the Saraland Police officers who arrested Chikesia Clemons should be disciplined for breaking the department’s procedures. @weartv https://t.co/0GuLYzS7d9

Both Sharpton and Crump said that the unnecessary exposure of Clemons' breasts was especially alarming given the mounting awareness of sexual assault and misconduct amid the #MeToo movement.

Benjamin Crump says they’re demanding that black women be respected. Crowd gives standing applause. @weartv @AttorneyCrump https://t.co/FO5ZkJQA2P

Sharpton also demanded more transparency from the Saraland Police Department. He questioned whether the cops had been wearing body cameras and demanded that any police video footage be released.

It’s a capacity crowd at the town hall where @TheRevAl will speak about the arrest at the #WaffleHouse in #Mobile. @weartv #C3N #NWFL https://t.co/rAKX9KLUlY

The veteran civil rights leader also said he would be raising funds for Clemons, who is a mother, declaring that she should not have to worry about making money while she prepares to go to court next month.

.@TheRevAl is asking people to give Chikesia Clemons money so that she doesn’t have to worry about how she’ll make a living as she prepares to go to court next month. He says he is personally donating $500. “This shows real unity,” Sharpton said. @weartv https://t.co/1n9AlJMfyM

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