Passionate pleas for change at Evansville's City Council meeting - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Passionate pleas for change at Evansville's City Council meeting

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George Madison speaking at Monday's Evansville City Council meeting. George Madison speaking at Monday's Evansville City Council meeting.
The meeting room packed, some even standing in the hallway. The meeting room packed, some even standing in the hallway.

Firefighter George Madison spoke out in public on Monday night about being stopped on his bicycle by Evansville police officers. 

Madison accused police of treating him aggressively and unprofessionally during a recent traffic stop. On Monday night, he and other members of the community made a passionate plea for change.

They were passionate and at some times heated during the meeting. It all started with a group known as the Concerned Clergy Of Evansville.  They made some recommendations to the city council on how to improve relations between the community and the police department.  

They called for an independent investigation more body cameras and a public apology from the police department over the incident with Madison.  

But from there the meeting quickly became a forum about race and Evansville Police officers.

Standing before the city council and a room full of supporters, Madison said for the first time that this incident with Evansville Police had forever changed him.

"The event right here affected me in unimaginable ways. As grounded and secure of a man that I thought I was, you could never have fathomed something like this has affected me the way that it has," Madison said.

Madison, with his family and Police Chief Billy Bolin sitting behind him, recounted the actions of the officers, saying for no reason he was treated like a common criminal.

"When you deal with individual, you don't realize that the choices that you make, how you treat them and the unhumane way that you treat them that can make a person feel," Madison said.

Madison's story was followed by several other stories from many who say they live in the center city, about run-ins they've had with Evansville Police officers. Many making a plea for more diversity training within the department.  

But one man says if there's going to be change the community has to make it happen.

"So we can quit pointing the finger at the police and start taking some responsibility for ourselves and for our own community," he said.

Police Chief Bolin took the podium admitting his department isn't without its faults.  But when his comments turned to race relations, he was quickly interrupted by Council President Connie Robinson, the only African American on the council.

Bolin went on to say that out of the nearly 95,000 runs  that officers have made this year, less than 1% resulted in a formal complaint.

Bolin says some  of the recommendations made Monday night will be made immediately. Others, he said, just aren't possible right now.  

Related Stories:

EPD releases video taken during stop of local firefighter
Call for diversity training stems from incident involving off-duty firefighter
Firefighter fires back on Facebook after officer is cleared of wrongdoing
EPD says firefighter detention was legal
Evansville firefighter claims mistreatment after incident involving EPD officer

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