Waffle House scattered, smothered and covered in crime

Cyril Josh Barker | 5/3/2018, 11:44 a.m.
Waffle House scattered, smothered and covered in crime
Rev. Al Sharpton Cyril Josh Barker photo

Waffle House is an American diner known for its signature waffles and breakfast staples; however, in recent weeks the chain has made headlines for a not-so-warm experience.

The nation was once again gripped by another mass shooting, this time at a Waffle House in Nashville, Tenn. April 22, four people were fatally shot at the eatery and two were wounded when 29-year-old Travis Jeffrey Reinking opened fire.

Reinking entered the restaurant half-naked, wearing only a jacket. Reinking used an AR-15-style rifle, first shooting two people outside of the restaurant before going inside and firing.

All of the victims who were killed were people of color: Taurean Sanderlin, 29, Joe Perez, 20, DeEbony Groves, 21, and Akilah Dasilva, 23. Police have not determined a motive and have not said if race played a role in the killings.

Reinking fled the scene but was found a day later and arrested. He is charged with four counts of criminal homicide and is being held on $2 million bond.

“Tragedies like this are a fundamental threat to our way of life in America,” said Nashville Mayor David Briley. “Everyone should be able to go to a restaurant or church or school without fear. I’ll do everything I can to make that possible. If we all come together for the greater good, we can take weapons of war off the street.”

Black restaurant patron James Shaw Jr. is being hailed a hero for intervening. The 29-year-old hid near the restaurant’s bathrooms before rushing Reinking and wrestling the rifle away. Shaw suffered a bullet graze wound during the shooting.

Shaw was thrust into instant fame for his bravery in the shooting and has made several television appearances. He works in Nashville as a technician for AT&T and graduated from the historically Black Tennessee State University.

Shaw created a Go Fund Me page for the victims’ families, which has raised more than $212,000.

“I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person,” he told one local news station. “I did that completely out of a selfish act. I was completely doing it just to save myself. Now, me doing that, I did save other people.”

Meanwhile, at a Waffle House in Saraland, Ala., near Mobile, no one is being hailed a hero after video surfaced of police handcuffing a topless Black woman on the floor.

The incident took place April 24 when three Black patrons were asked to leave the restaurant for bringing outside beverages. Other reports say that the incident was sparked by the customers’ refusal to pay for plastic cutlery. One of the patrons, 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons, did not leave.

Police were called to the location and a viral video shows three white male police officers detaining Clemons, causing her dress to come down and exposing her breasts. Without covering her up, officers continued to arrest her. One of the officers threatened to break her arm.

Waffle House has defended the acts of its employees and the need for police to be called. Clemons was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

“I’m just taking it day by day—it’s just so hard on me. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’m constantly crying. I have a 6-year-old daughter. I’m trying to be strong for her,” Clemons said on Al Sharpton’s “PoliticsNation.”

Sharpton and others have to come to Clemons’ defense. Tuesday, Sharpton and attorney Benjamin Crump held a press conference at Bethel AME Church in Mobile condemning the arrest. Activists are calling for a nationwide boycott of Waffle House.

“We all over this country are in an era when women are asking for fairness, and in the middle of that, you’re going to have a woman’s body exposed?” Sharpton said to local media. “And talk about it was appropriate? Waffle House must come out and respond to the local leaders’ demands, for the integrity of their business.”