Community leaders hold closed door meeting on Saraland Waffle House arrest

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More than 80,000 of you watched our Facebook Live Monday afternoon as the Saraland Police Department spoke about a video that went viral on social media over the weekend -showing officers arresting Chikesa Clemons at a Waffle House. Saraland Police say they were called to the restaurant after an employee called for help early Sunday morning. The employee told dispatchers a few patrons were being drunk and disorderly. Clemons was allegedly one of those patrons.

Tuesday night, some members of the community came together discussing that video and their feelings on how officers handled the incident.

We were told about the meeting at Stewart Memorial Church earlier Tuesday, but when we arrived, the pastor told News 5 this would be a closed-door meeting.

Prichard City Councilman Lorenzo Martin helped organize the meeting. He told News 5, inside they were deciding what their next steps will be.

Shortly before the meeting began, we spoke to a man attending the meeting.  He says whether Clemons was drunk or not, he wants action taken because of how she was treated as she was being arrested. Rodney Toomer said, “What we see – it is what it is, but still it’s another part that it underlines is how you handle it – how people of color are being handled every day in these situations.” 

Toomer told us he feels a female officer should have been the one interacting with the woman.
He says officers should have tried to verbally de-escalate the situation before making physical contact.

Toomer said, “Close your eyes and imagine that’s your daughter and don’t think that your daughter is exempt from that – that maybe she’ll go out one night and have fun with her friends and that’s her same situation. How would you want them to handle your daughter?” 

We asked the pastor of Stewart Memorial Church why we couldn’t go inside the meeting. He told us he wanted people to be able to speak their minds freely.

This is not the only meeting taking place this week continuing the discussion on the incident at Waffle House. President of the local NAACP, David Smith, confirmed to News 5 there will be a town hall meeting this Thursday discussing how officers handled the situation. The meeting will be at 6:00 PM at the Cedar Street Baptist Church located at 541 Cedar Street in Saraland.

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