Movement To Boycott Waffle House Grows After Black Couple Handcuffed By Police In Dispute Over $2 Drink

Yet again, Waffle House is under fire for an incident believed to be racially charged. 

Photo of a Waffle House.
Jason Davis / Getty Images

Yet again, Waffle House is under fire for an incident believed to be racially charged. 

Waffle House is once again under fire for calling the police on black customers. As Vox documented, this recent incident occurred when a Waffle House employee called the police on a black couple, identified as Donald Copeland and Ms. Hart, that were disputing being charged $2.50 for an orange juice when the price was advertised as $1. The incident occurred on May 2, but a recent video from the officer’s body cam was posted on Twitter by activist and journalist Shaun King, and the video that shows the couple being handcuffed has gone viral.

According to Vox, the black couple were placing a to-go order at a Waffle House in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. When they saw that they were overcharged, the couple questioned the bill saying they wouldn’t pay the additional cost, and they attempted to call the Waffle House headquarters. The employee then decided to call the Fort Walton Beach Police Department, and the employee told the officers that they wanted to press charges if the couple didn’t pay.

As seen in the video below, one of the police officers had a taser on Mr. Copeland while asking him if he was going to pay his bill. Hart questioned how they could be charged with theft since they hadn’t been served any food or drinks. Ms. Hart was in tears as she and Copeland were put in handcuffs. Reportedly, the couple was arrested, but the charges were later dropped when the pair agreed to pay the bill and never return to Waffle House. According to Business Insider, they were later issued a full refund.

Warning: The video below contains strong language.

Many people felt the officers that arrived at the Waffle House immediately escalated the situation. The Fort Walton Beach Police Department issued a statement on Facebook stating that the officers followed proper protocol.

This is just one of many recent incidents involving Waffle House and black customers. As the Washington Post reported last April, police officers in Saraland, Alabama, violently wrestled a black woman, 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons, to the ground at a Waffle House. The altercation resulted in Clemons’ breasts being exposed. This incident occurred because of yet another argument involving a Waffle House employee, this time the employee was attempting to charge Chikesia for plastic utensils and an argument ensued.

As the Washington Post documented, the Waffle House manager claims this had nothing to do with the plastic utensils, and he asked his employee to call the police when he saw three black customers, including Clemons, enter the diner in possession of alcohol. Witnesses confirmed to the officers that the trio appeared to be drunk. Though the three were accused of being inebriated, as WKRG documented, Jason Barnes of the NAACP pointed out that they were never charged with public intoxication. Last May, protesters rallied and marched at that same Alabama Waffle House, and a protest is being organized at the company’s headquarters on June 15.

Warning: The video below contains strong language.

As 88.5 WMNF reported last month, activists recently rallied in protest outside a Waffle House in New Port Richey, Florida. WMNF spoke with a member of the Florida Peace Action Network, Dan Callaghan, who explained the cause for protest.

“A number of us are very concerned that African-Americans seem to be treated badly at Waffle Houses in the last couple of weeks. There was an incident where employees called a complaint in to the police about a woman very upset because she had to pay for a plastic fork. The woman ended up being undressed in public [by the rough treatment of police]. Then there was a second incident just a few days ago involving a young black man in a tuxedo who sat at the table, was called a fa**ot, and one of the employees said that he’d beat him up. Then there was another incident on the Waffle House site: one of the employees somewhere saw black people coming to the restaurant and locked the door.

“So we felt that the only way to get the attention of the corporation was to go to our brand new Waffle House — no sticky floors — and essentially just be outside to let people know that African-Americans are maybe placing themselves in danger if they enter a Waffle House.”

Because of all these incidents that are believed to be racially driven against black customers at various Waffle House locations, activists are calling for more boycotts of the restaurant chain.