The internet is calling for a Waffle House boycott after several recordings of a confrontation between two customers, employees, and police officers, which resulted in an arrest over an upcharge on orange juice, has gone viral.
In police body camera footage, a Fort Walton Beach, Florida, police officer is seen pointing a taser at a customer after he and the woman he was with disputed the $1.50 surcharge on a cup of orange juice as part of a to-go order.
According to the State, the couple, identified in a police report as Donald Copeland and Ms. Hart, placed the order at 1a.m. on May 2. Before receiving their order, they disagreed with the $2.50 price of the orange juice listed on the bill, contradicting the menu’s price of $1.
An employee later told police that the $1 price is only offered if another drink is purchased. The couple had also ordered water, which doesn’t count toward the two-drink requirement. One of the employees told them that if they didn’t pay the charge, he would press charges.
When the couple tried to call the corporation, the Waffle House employees, who remain unidentified, called the police and said Copeland was “being irate screaming and cussing.”
Here is the body camera footage of this outrageous wrongful arrest of a Black couple @WaffleHouse. They were arrested for theft & trespassing. They never even received the food. They were overcharged a $1.50 for an orange juice and asked to call customer service. pic.twitter.com/c7a74NhKoH— Shaun King (@shaunking) June 13, 2018
In the body camera footage, one of the responding officers points his finger at Copeland and wags it, telling him, “C’mere, c’mon.” Copeland tells the officer about something including, “Your hands on me,” to which the officer responds, “Oh, I’m gonna put my hands on you. Get out here!” This back-and-forth continues during the nearly-30-minute video, with an employee saying the couple needs to pay for the food, while Hart says they’ve ordered the food and are “waiting for them to charge us right.”
When Copeland finally addresses the officer, beckoned by the officer’s taunt of “he should come out here and talk to me like a man,” Hart said the other officer, out of view, pulled his taser out. Copeland then starts recording on his phone and hands it to Hart as he leaves with his hands raised over his head. An officer tells the couple that if they don’t pay, they’re going to jail and points the taser at Copeland.
Copeland and Hart are then handcuffed and put in the back of a police cruiser.
“We didn’t get no food or nothing in front of us. We didn’t get nothing from them, nothing at all. We haven’t been served at all. We haven’t been served so how is it theft. We asked her to explain the bill to us, she gave us no food or nothing and called you guys,” Hart says after an officer tells her they committed a crime for not paying.
Despite the detainment, the police released the couple after they agreed to pay the bill and never return to that Waffle House location, according to the police report. They were never charged. The police footage ends with the couple walking away with their food, but not before one of the officers tells them, “I’m doing you a favor by not taking you to jail right now.”
Waffle House found itself at the center of a police brutality case earlier this year after an Alabama woman was dragged to the ground and exposed by an arresting officer for disputing a charge for plastic utensils.
Across Twitter, people are expressing their outrage to the escalation of the surcharge dispute, encouraging others to stop spending their money at the restaurant.
Stop giving Waffle House your money.— L E F T, PhD ⚫️ (@LeftSentThis) June 13, 2018
Fuck the Wafflehouse. Boycott that horrible spot already. https://t.co/i1cfnqPXW4— ABOLISH THE SYSTEM (@EQUIPTO) June 13, 2018
When is @WaffleHouse going to close for anti-bias training? At this rate they'll need to close for several months to address this issue. How many times do their employees have to call the police on their customers before this company addresses it. Ridiculous. Over orange juice. https://t.co/ep8FQagALJ— Francis Maxwell (@francismmaxwell) June 13, 2018
Some users, including Luke Cage actor Mike Colter, have used the hashtag #BoycottWaffleHouse to drive the message.
Stay out of the nasty waffle house people! They’re sending you a message. Don’t give them your money! You have to show some solidarity one person at a time. Please! The food and the locations are foul and now they allow police to behave this way toward patrons #boycottwafflehouse https://t.co/Am2lFJLPaH— Mike Colter (@realmikecolter) June 13, 2018
It's both foolish and futile to continue to appeal to the conscience of white America. Don't even think of passing this pathetic inferiority complex on to our children. Teach them to divest from racist white power and build independent black economic power. #BoycottWaffleHouse pic.twitter.com/07vAFRoOdS— Malek Akan (@Fanonian) June 13, 2018
The police department, however, says it stands by its officers and their behavior during the interaction and arrest, stating that an internal review proved no wrongdoing on the officers’ parts. Despite its stance, the department wrote in a Facebook statement that “while there was no misconduct of the officers…the situation could have been handled differently by both parties involved,” specifically referring to the couple and Waffle House employees.
Perhaps the incident will finally compel people to give up their superiority complex over IHOP/IHOb and give up Waffle House for good.
The body camera footage can be watched in full below:
H/T the Root