A Message to the Nation
by Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, MWRO
As I watched in horror the situation as it unfolded on national television I was sick to my stomach at this disgraceful event. Chikesia Clemons was being dragged to the floor of a Waffle House restaurant near Mobile, Alabama on April 24, 2018. The T.V. commentator suggested the conflict was about eating utensils but it was clear to me and to other women who looked, that there was more to this story. My eyes saw a sexual and a physical assault by Saraland Police officers. As she was being dragged to the floor tossed and turned like a dust-mop, the officers we trying to handcuff her. She was trying to cover her chest which had been exposed when one of the officers snatched her up from the booth were she was sitting. Her clothes were ripped away and there she was, on the floor, with these three men moving her in this direction and then the other. The “touches” and “brushes” on and near her bare chest as she tried to cover herself were recognizable. She was not afforded one ounce of dignity no matter what kind of language she and her friend who was also seated may have used.
The Waffle House and any other public place has taken the country to a new place of disrespect. Police can be summoned to disputes over eating utensils, and have the right apparently to “fondle” patrons at will. This young woman is twenty-five years old and has been subjected to a brand of local southern terrorism designed to send a familiar message to those who work for social justice. They are telling us all that there is a price to pay for speaking up on behalf of others. Don’t know if anyone else at that restaurant tried to stop this assault by at least making a comment, but we are all grateful to the two other women who had the courage to tape this horrible event with their cell phones.
These police officers are not reflective of what good policing looks like. Decent, law-loving Police personnel would not have resorted to brute tactics that included exposing her bare chest after first wrestling to the floor, then threatening to “break her arm” if she kept refusing to be handcuffed behind her back. I watched it. Women everywhere watched it. What a shameful, immoral, and frightening display of disrespect that should have that Police Dept. too ashamed to let this sad event go by without an appropriate response and some modicum of accountability. Me-Too, Where Are You???
MD Taylor, MI Welfare Rights Org