The video of a North Carolina man being choked and thrown to the ground by police at a local Waffle House has gone viral, prompting activists to boycott the restaurant chain. On Friday night, employees called Warsaw County Police after having a verbal altercation with 22-year-old Anthony Wall. In spite of the disturbing use of force during Wall’s arrest, a company spokesman defends the staff’s decision to call in the cops.
According to USA Today, Wall had escorted his 16-year-old sister to her prom and visited the restaurant later that night. A dispute over a table quickly escalated and video footage showed Wall and his sister arguing with employees. A Waffle House staffer called the police and the saga continued on the sidewalk outside the restaurant.
Activist and journalist Shaun King has identified the cop who responded to the call as Officer Frank Moss. He could be seen in the video footage choking Wall and shoving him up against the restaurant windows. Shaun King called Moss’ actions an assault.
Wall repeatedly told Moss to let him go because he was struggling to breathe and demanded to speak with a supervising officer. Moss then slammed Wall down on the concrete and eventually forced him into handcuffs. Wall has been charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
The Facebook video has been reportedly viewed more than 1 million times and has outraged the greater community. Bernice King, daughter of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., has called for a nationwide boycott of the chain until corporate management makes some serious changes to their employee training and corporate culture.
But Waffle House has issued a statement defending their restaurant staff’s actions saying that the company trains them to call the police anytime they feel that the safety of customers and staff are threatened. The commentary referenced an incident in April at a Waffle House in Saraland, Ala., where three White officers wrestled an unarmed Black woman, Chikeshia Clemons, to the ground. The male officers exposed the woman’s bare breasts in the process, but a spokesman for the chain deemed the handling of both incidents as appropriate.
“Our review of these incidents do not indicate race was an issue in the decision to call the police in either case,” Waffle House offered in a statement.
“Both incidents escalated quickly, and our employees called the police because of safety concerns for their customers and themselves. We train our employees to call the police whenever they feel in danger, or if they feel their customers are in danger.”
Warsaw mayor A.J. Connors released a videotaped statement defending Officer Moss and blamed Wall for breaking the law and refusing to leave the premises. He too has denied that the young man’s arrest was racially-motivated. Connors has called for the general public to reserve judgment and allow the criminal justice system to work.
In a move that seems to conflict with the company position on these recent arrests, Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer has reportedly called Wall to apologize and to make sure that he is faring well after the unfortunate incident. Anthony Wall has since taken responsibility for his part in the confrontation but insists that he only resisted arrest because he could not breathe.