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Civil Rights Organizations Increase Pressure as Waffle House Continues to Condone the Racist and Homophobic Actions of Employees


Restaurant chain refuses to condemn the discriminatory treatment and abuse of Black and LGBTQ+ patrons, issues tone-deaf apology to couple in most recent video

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 21, 2018) – The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) and the Women’s March today announced plans to increase pressure on Waffle House to publicly denounce the discriminatory actions of its employees and implement cultural competence training following a string of incidents of racial and homophobic bias and discrimination at its restaurants. NBJC, Women’s March, and the National LGBTQ Task Force are submitting petitions to the leadership of Waffle House and city officials in Saraland, Alabama, and Warsaw, North Carolina, demanding justice for recent victims of discrimination at multiple Waffle House restaurants and the unjustified arrests of those Black patrons.

The most recent incident brought to light involves a Black couple in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, who was charged more for a menu item without explanation. Upon inquiry about the erroneous charge, police were called by employees at the Waffle House and the couple was handcuffed.  In response, Waffle House CEO Walter G. Ehmer released a statement that said the couple received a refund and a phone call.

“The tone-deaf ‘apology’ provided by Mr. Elmer reveals that these incidents of racial and homophobic bias and discrimination are reflective of a lack of cultural competency that starts at the top of the organization and is trickling down,” said David J. Johns, Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition. “Instead of standing firm in its bias and questionable moral practices, the company should stand with the growing list of customers who now face criminal charges by calling for those charges to be dropped and then implementing professional development to ensure all employees honor the humanity of all patrons.”

In addition to the Florida couple, Black customers who have had their rights violated by Waffle House recently include:

  • Chikesia Clemons, a 25-year-old woman, who was thrown to the ground after having her breast exposed by three white police officers when a Waffle House employee attempted to charge her and her friends $0.50 for plastic cutlery—a fee that was not assessed to white patrons at the time.
  • Anthony Wall, a 22-year old gay man, who was choked, thrown against a window and slammed to the ground by police officers after employees at a Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina, hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.

More than 50,000 individuals and over 40 additional civil rights organizations, including Color of Change, Human Rights Campaign, NAACP, American Civil Rights Union, Campaign Zero, National Action Network, the Advancement Project and others signed petitions in support of charges being dropped against Clemons and Wall and for Waffle House and the local police departments to be held fully accountable.

The petitions follow numerous civil rights organizations issuing an advisory to Black and LGBTQIA+/same gender loving (SGL) people to avoid Waffle House restaurants earlier in June, as well as a rally at Waffle House headquarters in Atlanta.

“It will take more than a simple apology and a slap on the wrist to fix the problems that Waffle House has, and we will work to ensure that it’s handled,” said Tamika D. Mallory, co-president of the Women’s March. “We stand with those who are on the receiving end of racial discrimination by Waffle House, and we will not sit until something is done about it. Their indifference is unacceptable.”

“Waffle House has repeatedly shown us that they do not value their Black customers or care to take any steps to improve the quality of its service to our community,” said Brittany Packnett, activist and co-founder of Campaign Zero. “We are asking for something that should have already been addressed — for the top executives to remedy the sickness of this restaurant chain.”


The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.