Police in Alabama wrestled a black woman to the ground, leaving her topless, and threatened to break her arm after they were called to a Waffle House for what her mother said was a dispute over paying for plastic utensils.
Video shows Chikesia Clemons being forced to the ground and handcuffed by two officers while a third leans over her during the incident in the early hours of Sunday in the Mobile suburb of Saraland.
All three are white men. One officer briefly puts a hand on her neck. Her top slips as the officers turn her over while she is lying on the floor, exposing her breasts.
“What did I do wrong?” Clemons asks in the cellphone video taken by her friend, Canita Adams, which does not show the full encounter. “I’m about to break your arm, that’s what I’m about to do,” one of the officers says. One pulls out what appears to be a stun gun.
Chiquitta Clemons Howard, Clemons’ mother, told al.com her daughter was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest after an employee called police when she refused to pay 50 cents for plastic utensils and asked for a manager’s contact details to make a complaint.
The Saraland police department said in a statement that “the situation is being thoroughly reviewed and is under active investigation right now. Our department strives for transparency”.
A Waffle House spokesman said in a statement that “the information we have received at this point differs significantly from what has reportedly been attributed to Ms Clemons and strongly supports the actions taken by the Saraland police department”.
Protesters gathered at the restaurant later on Sunday and one man was arrested, WSAV local news reported.
The president of Mobile’s NAACP branch, David Smith, said on Facebook that he was “disturbed” and drew a comparison with the arrests of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia earlier this month.
They were held on suspicion of trespassing after an employee called the police because they sat down without buying anything. It transpired they were waiting for a friend.
Video of their arrests went viral and the incident prompted a contrite response from the company, which plans to provide racial bias training for 175,000 employees next month.
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