START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x
602,556 people care about Civil Rights

Black Firefighter Handcuffed and Threatened After Waving Hello

Black Firefighter Handcuffed and Threatened After Waving Hello

George Madison, Jr. is a firefighter in Evansville, Indiana. Last month, Mr. Madison was riding his bike on a Tuesday afternoon when he saw two officers on patrol rode by. Mr. Madison waved hello. A few minutes later, the father of four and youth pastor was threatened with a taser, handcuffed and forced to lie on the ground.

As reported by the Evansville Courier & Press, he admits that he did not stop at the intersection of the four-way stop when the officers made a sudden turn in front of him. As they passed by, he thought he recognized one of them and he raised his hand to wave. They instructed him to pull his bicycle over to the side of the road. The officers jumped out and went towards him and shouted, “What are you doing throwing your hands up at us?”

Apparently these officers aren’t used to people waving at them. Here is how they reported this part of the story:

“Mr. Madison failed to stop his bike and continued through the intersection. Mr. Madison then raised his right arm in a [sic] apparent aggravated manor [sic] at officers. Officers turned around and stopped Mr. Madison at Weinbach and Kathleen.”

Is aggravated waving a crime?

Madison tried to explain, but the officers weren’t interested in listening. It was at this point, Madison realized he didn’t know the officers and felt things were getting out of control. He decided to call the Police Chief Bolin, having worked with him on various community efforts to see if he could help calm the situation.

That just made things worse.

The officer told him to put the phone down. Madison tried to explain who he was calling and the officer grabbed the phone, which made Madison reflexively flinch.

Or as Officers Clifton and Clegg reported:

“Mr. Madison refused to put his phone down and told officers to hold on a minute. Officer Clegg reached for Mr. Madison’s phone and Mr. Madison postured up and pulled his arm back in a [sic] aggressive manor [sic].”

What is it with arms that Evansville police find so aggressive?

Officer Clegg then pulls out his taser and orders Madison to the ground. “It was literally maybe inches from my face,” Madison said. “I immediately threw my hands in the air. What he asked me to do I was more than willing to do. I said ‘Please don’t hurt me.’ The next thing I know I’m laying down on the ground and they cuffed me.”

They then began to interrogate Mr. Madison who, at this point, has only committed a minor traffic violation of failing to stop at a stop sign while riding a bike. Nevertheless, they ask for his name, identification and where he worked. When Mr. Madison stated that he was a firefighter, things took a decidedly different turn.

This is also when Officer Clegg remembered to turn on the camera he was wearing.

The ten minute video shows how the officers suddenly realize they may have stepped over the line with a fellow public servant. They spend the time trying to recap events and making sure Madison understands what he did wrong and why they had to handcuff him. It wasn’t about waving, it was because he failed to stop at a stop sign. Plus, they had no idea who he was calling. He could have been calling his buddies and they would have had a situation where they would have been in danger.

It was about the officers’ safety, you see.

Madison often disagrees with their assessment, but is constantly told differently. Madison realizes the futility of the situation and simply starts agreeing with them. Assured he had “calmed down,” they release him from the handcuffs. They once again want to make sure that he knew all the things he did wrong in the situation. They explained that he’s supposed to stop at stop signs and that he shouldn’t bring attention to himself.

In other words, they wanted him to understand that everything that happened was entirely his fault.

At one point, a visibly shaken Madison tries to explain that, as a black man, he was afraid of the aggressiveness of the officer. “The only thing anybody wants is to be treated like a human.”

Most would look at this as the latest example of how the most innocent of activities can be blown out of proportion — when a black person is involved. Just as mundane activities such as driving or walking (see stop and frisk) seem to be justifiable reasons for law enforcement to harass people of color, it would appear that waving is also worthy of police attention.

George Madison does not agree.

In a statement posted to the Facebook page of the Evansville Courier & Press, Madison says, “I have never said this was a race issue. I haven’t said one derogatory word about anyone involved. I felt as if I was treated unfairly and I filed a complaint, which is my right. I have trusted the system and continually supported Chief Bolin and our police department. I agreed with the decision that my complaint was unfounded by internal affairs and that no standard operating procedures were violated. My major concern is that my dignity and right to be treated like a human being was violated. I still believe and will continue to trust the system.”

Mr. Madison was never cited for his traffic violation.

Read more: ,

Photo credit: Thinkstock

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

224 comments

+ add your own
2:01AM PST on Nov 9, 2013

WELL ISN'T THAT EMBARRASSING FOR THE OFFICERS !

4:12PM PDT on Oct 13, 2013

I'm white, but these officers are white trash..... they should think before they act.

4:51PM PDT on Oct 1, 2013

If I were the black firefighter profiled here, I would no longer trust my fellow public servants... .

12:29PM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

The USA is often not very generous--they took the land from the indigenous, brought Africans here as slaves, and lighter but important issues such as no bike lanes! Many of the roads used to be indigenous walking/running/hunting paths taken away by modern interlopers and turned into horse buggy and then car lanes. Most of the modern infrastructure--car lanes, roads, highways, airport terminal' places are not environmentally-friendly, and overall help ruin biodiversity. Biking is great outdoor recreational exercise. In NYC there are sometimes accidents because of bike-car collisions due to there not being enough bike lanes for bikers.

12:29PM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

The USA is often not very generous--they took the land from the indigenous, brought Africans here as slaves, and lighter but important issues such as no bike lanes! Many of the roads used to be indigenous walking/running/hunting paths taken away by modern interlopers and turned into horse buggy and then car lanes. Most of the modern infrastructure--car lanes, roads, highways, airport terminal' places are not environmentally-friendly, and overall help ruin biodiversity. Biking is great outdoor recreational exercise. In NYC there are sometimes accidents because of bike-car collisions due to there not being enough bike lanes for bikers.

12:29PM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

The USA is often not very generous--they took the land from the indigenous, brought Africans here as slaves, and lighter but important issues such as no bike lanes! Many of the roads used to be indigenous walking/running/hunting paths taken away by modern interlopers and turned into horse buggy and then car lanes. Most of the modern infrastructure--car lanes, roads, highways, airport terminal' places are not environmentally-friendly, and overall help ruin biodiversity. Biking is great outdoor recreational exercise. In NYC there are sometimes accidents because of bike-car collisions due to there not being enough bike lanes for bikers.

12:12PM PDT on Sep 10, 2013

Indiana is supposedly very racist, with Gary, Indiana being the home of the KKK in the USA. Though, there are plenty of nice people in Indiana. Many African-Americans are often not treated well, and stereotyped. This may actually be a case of the lack of bike lanes in the USA. In New York City, bikers sometimes get in accidents with cars as there are no real bike lanes that totally intersect and protect the biker throughout most of NYC. Many people love to ride bicycles, and there are not enough bike lanes! People want to ride their bikes to work, or to towns in counties, and there are no bike lanes. Some areas just have car lanes, and no lanes for bikes, or walking. Many of the paths used to be indigenous walking/running paths transformed into car lanes after horse buggies. And, they did not keep or add bike lanes, or walk lanes, etc. This is a modern problem that is also related to healthy outdoor exercise and recreation, as well as a loss of environmental biodiversity as modern roads are known to be overall not helpful to wildlife for a variety of reasons.

9:01AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

In 1975 I was coming back to base, Moffat Field Ca. from a friends house just outside the gates. I passed the guard house showed my ID and began to run again as I had on my way up to the gate. I wasn't jogging I was in a full sprint when a siren blooped, a spotlight hit me and I was ordered to HALT! I did as asked and was approached by two overweight 1st Class Petty Officers. "Why are you running" I was asked, "Because I felt like running" I replied. "Put your hands up, what's that in your hands? I put up my hands and answered, " A Frisbee " It was about at this point that the morons started to realize that they had made themselves look stupid. " Well when you are jogging don't run so fast it is supposed to be slower " ??!!?? Uh yeah right. They drove off down the street, I passed them again shortly thereafter running hell bent for leather, I wish I could run like that now. OH Yeah and I'm a white guy

7:10AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

the great state of america gets greater day by day

4:04AM PDT on Sep 9, 2013

Some police look for any excuse to throw power around and scare people. Others are calm and respectful and fair. I've seen both many times. The problem is that when officers overreact or are bullies nothing happens to them. This must e a failure of leadership. But, folks, we should all know (whether we like it or not) that it's best for us to stay very calm when confronted by police. Their reactions to us are too unpredictable.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free
Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.