Police Detain Off-duty Black Firefighter for Waving

Okay, so where do I start this one? Well, let’s just say that this one hits close to home — literally. Alright, so I got a call from my beat friend who lives in Evansville, Indiana early last week. He called to tell me about a local story involving the Evansville Police Department and an off-duty firefighter, who happens to be black. With the firefighter in question being black — and me being a professional racism chaser –given that I’m even talking about this, you can pretty much conclude that the cops in question were white (yes, racism chasing is a hard habit to break now that we’re post-racial).

But anyway, as the story was told, off-duty firefighter George Madison Jr., 38, had a run-in with two police officers while riding his bicycle. According reports, Madison was stopped by cops after he was observed making “aggressive hand gestures,” towards the officers. Now I know what you think: a black man isn’t supposed to throw up a black fist or express that black power bullshit in the company of police officers. Yes, it’s ob page 22 of the book “6 Million Ways To Die If You’re Black In AmeriKKKa” us melanin-challenged are presented upon coming of age at 5-years-old.

George Madison Jr. (far right)

But given that this was not the actions of Madison, one has to question whether what unfolded was, well, racially motivated or not. After all, we have to be careful about these things and incidents like these because as you know, we are in fact post-racial now. Uh-huh, even in little ole Evansville, Indiana where I once attended college, and resided for a few years. But as it relates to Madison, the question remains, what did he do wrong? Well, given that the officer in question was cleared of any wrongdoing, to answer the above question: everything. But of course, race isn’t a factor.

This from WFIE 14:


An Evansville firefighter tells 14 News that all he wanted was to be treated like a human being during a police incident.

The firefighter, who had been riding his bicycle, claims he was cuffed, thrown to the ground, and threatened with a taser after a police officer thought he had given him the middle finger.
On Facebook, firefighter George Madison writes that ‘he doesn’t want any publicity, he just doesn’t want this to happen to somebody else.’

George tells 14 News that he’s shaken by the incident and believes this may have been personal.

The photo of the incident has gone viral- Madison kneeling on the ground near the corner of Riverside and Weinbach in handcuffs.

He tells 14 News that he was threatened with a taser and scared by the officer’s actions.

“He called me yesterday afternoon right after the incident happened,” Evansville Police Department Chief Billy Bolin said. “Said he was on his bicycle, went through a stop sign, saw a police car and said that he waved at the officers, but he thinks the officers thought he was flipping him off.”

Chief Bolin, who is friends with Madison, says the incident is now under investigation.

“I know him, I like him. I know the officers involved, I like the officers involved. So, my job is to try to figure out the truth no matter who you like,” Chief Bolin said.

In a Facebook post, the youth pastor and member of the fire department’s combat challenge team says he doesn’t think race had anything to do with what happened.

Checkout the following report:

Now I’ve been communicating with Madison in recent days in hopes of securing an interview for this site on Madness & Reality Radio. I don’t know if he will eventually agree to do an interview. But I gotta tell you, now that we know the outcome of the investigation I’d like to know whether he is still of the opinion that race had nothing to do with the incident. Him being a pillar of the community, I imagine he would answer honestly.

Although Madison failed to stop at a stop sign at the intersection of South Weinbach Avenue and Riverside Drive, a police report written by Clifton says they stopped Madison after seeing him gesture, and that officers later told him he drew their attention by making his gesture.

“It’s not a crime to draw attention to yourself. What you can’t do is breach the peace. There is no crime that they have described (in the report). If anything, it is a traffic infraction,” said Fran Watson, a practicing attorney and clinical professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Madison acknowledged that he didn’t stop at the intersection. However, he said the officers turned in front him and did not turn around to stop him until after he waved at them. (source)

Oh yeah, he was never given a traffic ticket either….

I’ll keep you posted on if and when there’ll be an interview with Madison. But in the mean time, check out the following video captured from the body camera of one of the officers and tell me what you think of the incident. Do you think that race was a factor? I’m only asking because the city of 117,000 is 82% white and 12.6% black according to the 2010 census. Not to pull the race card myself, let’s be honest: stopping a guy riding a bicycle for running a stop sign, and waving at the police, doesn’t sound too much like the actions of a criminal mastermind, no?

Watch the video below: