Flaggs, Monsour send message in wake of Waffle House safety change: ‘Don’t scare the public’

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Ward 2 Alderman Alex Monsour each used a recent announcement from a local restaurant to express a larger point about crime in the River City Wednesday morning.

During a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Flaggs said the recent announcement that Vicksburg’s four Waffle House locations would begin closing dine-in options during overnight weekend hours was not due to a recent surge in crime in those areas of town, while Monsour used the opportunity to blast irresponsible posts to social media.

Monday, Waffle House Division Manager Hope Baker announced the chain’s four Vicksburg locations would each begin serving customers through only to-go orders on Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., citing safety as the reason for the change.

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“We will also increase security,” Baker said. “I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause but ultimately the decision is being made for the safety of our employees and customers.”

Flaggs said Wednesday that it is important that local residents not misinterpret the restaurant’s decision as an indication that crime specific to Vicksburg was the reason for the shift in Waffle House policy.

“The Waffle House safety had nothing to do with one locality,” Flaggs said. “It’s my understanding that the Waffle House made a decision. A policy decision. For instance, in one part of the United States, it closed down from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. and just uses the drive-in. In another part of the country, they closed down some that, statistically, they couldn’t produce the (safety) for the inside and the outside. I think most of that has been blown out of proportion. Let me just say emphatically that this city, I believe is a safe city.”

Monsour added to Flaggs’ message, not only reiterating the decision was not specific to Vicksburg, but also pointing a finger at what he said were misleading social media posts claiming rising crime led to the change.

“I’m a facts guy. I just collect the facts. The data,” Monsour said. “There’s an agenda in Vicksburg for some people on Facebook. They want this administration changed out, but at the cost of putting information out there to scare the people into thinking Vicksburg is the highest crime in the state.”

Using the Waffle House dining changes as an example, Monsour said the numbers don’t support the claims concerning crime.

“I went and pulled the data on the Waffle Houses, which they should have done before they made that report. And I’m gonna tell you. I’ve got it in red. All four places. The calls come in from Waffle House.”

Monsour said the Waffle House location on Pemberton Square Boulevard has reported seven disturbances since January.

“That’s one per month,” he said. “Does that sound like high crime? And it’s for various things. It could be somebody walking out without paying for their meal. Or it could be for trespassing.”

Monsour also said Waffle House locations on Frontage Road, Warrenton Road and Clay Street reported 16, 6 and 13 calls, respectively.

“That’s since January,” he said. “Does that sound like it’s rampant and out of control?”

Monsour said his overall message is responsibility should be exercised before creating an unwarranted stir among residents.

“If you want to make it out to be like we’ve got high crime here because you don’t like me or George Flaggs, that’s your problem,” he said. “But don’t scare the public, because I’m coming out with this information. It’s factual. All you gotta do is your homework. Quit trying to scare the people because you want two other people sitting up here on this board. It’s ridiculous and I’m going to start calling it out every time that you put misinformation out there.”