No one expects to become a Twitter hashtag, but that’s exactly what happened to 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons when she was aggressively arrested at an Alabama Waffle House last weekend.
In her first interview about the incident, Clemons told the Grio she is still haunted by the events of that early Sunday morning.
“It has been so hard for me. I have been in pain. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. In fact, I haven’t really slept since the night it happened,” Clemons said from her home in Mobile, A.L.
The night of the incident, Clemons and her friend Carnita Adams, stopped by a Waffle House in the town of Saraland. After getting into a dispute with an employee, who said she’d have to pay for plastic utensils, Clemons said she asked for the district manager’s information to file a complaint, but was met by police instead.
Shortly after they arrived, Clemons was wrestled to the ground, which exposed her breasts. When she asked officers, “What are you doing?” one of the men told her, “I’ll break your arm, that’s what I’m about to do.”
In addition to the mental trauma she endured, Clemons said she still has the physical reminders of that encounter. “I have bruises all over,” she explained.
After the video of her arrest went viral, many have rallied to Clemons side, including her attorney Benjamin Crump. Clemons said the support has been helpful, but being manhandled by police still affects her.
“I’m grateful for the support of my family and Mr. Crump,” she said. “I’m constantly breaking down and crying. I have a six-year old daughter. She sees me crying and then she starts to cry.”
After the incident, a spokesperson for Waffle House said “police intervention was appropriate,” a claim Crump disputes.
“We declare to the Waffle House Corporation and the Saraland Police Department that is unacceptable the way they assaulted her, the way they threatened this unarmed Black woman the way they body slammed this unarmed Black woman and the way they brutalized this unarmed Black woman,” he said.
Crump, who will likely file a lawsuit against the parties involved, chastised Saraland police officers for treating Clemons differently than they would a white woman in the same circumstance.
“Women are disrespected so often. And, these officers assaulted her, threatened her, choked her, and exposed her with no evidence whatsoever,” he argued. “They give young, white men who are confirmed murderers more respect and consideration than they did for this unarmed Black woman,”
Crump added, “This is a beautiful young sister, a mother, and she has been going through it. If we don’t stand up for this young sister, then shame on us all.”