Glad ‘Madea’ was not driving

April 8, 2012 

If you were in your vehicle and made a left turn from a far-right lane and a police officer witnessed that turn, do you think you should be pulled over for breaking a Georgia law?

The illegal turn was performed on a roadway in Atlanta recently by Tyler Perry, the brilliant American actor. Now, because of Perry’s April 1 racial-profiling allegations via his Facebook, the Atlanta Police Department’s Office of Professional Standards has launched an internal investigation. On the social media site, Perry made clear it was no April Fool’s day joke.

Perry admitted to making the illegal left hand turn from a far-right lane. He said it was a “trick” his security detail taught him to make sure no one was following him when traveling alone.

Two Atlanta police officers stopped Perry after witnessing the illegal turn, apparently not recognizing the man who made the character Madea famous.

Perry wrote on his Facebook post that officers inquired as to why he made the illegal turn and he explained he was attempting to see if anyone might be tailing him. Perry claimed one of the officers responded, “Why do you think someone might be following you?” (Maybe the question perturbed the actor when he realized the officers didn’t recognize him.)

The performer noted that the second officer starting “banging” on his passenger’s side window. For some reason Perry assumed the lawman was taking issue with the dark tint used on his windows.

On Facebook, Perry claimed the officers “badgered” him about why someone might be following his vehicle.

A second police cruiser soon arrived, driven by a black Atlanta policeman. Perry noted the officer looked at him and had that “Oh no” look on his face.

The black officer spoke “in a hushed tone” to the two white men. “After that, one of the officers stayed near his car while one came back, very apologetic,” Perry wrote.

Perry did not indicate whether he was cited for his illegal left turn or dark tinted windows; neither has media outlets in their coverage.

An article about the incident posted by Reuters and quoting Georgia Public Broadcasting, detailed laws that were broken by Perry. In Georgia, the law requires a driver to proceed with a left turn from “the extreme left-hand lane” of a multi-lane road.

State law also makes it a misdemeanor to tint driver’s or passenger’s side windows under certain conditions, according to the state’s Department of Public Safety.

I must tell you that I am a Tyler Perry fan. I believe he is a very talented, funny individual and his status as highest paid entertainer has been rightfully earned. The Madea character is hilarious and in each movie, Madea, I mean Tyler, drives home a pertinent theme to a mostly young, captivated audience. These are poignant subject matters that need to be addressed with thousands of viewers that otherwise may never hear the message of family, civility and ethics.

With that being said, I don’t get the profiling allegations by T.P. Two police officers, that happened to be white, saw a vehicle make an illegal turn. We know the officers didn’t know the driver was a man or a woman or what ethnicity until after the stop because the windows were tinted.

Was it profiling because they stopped him or because they knocked on the window or asked him why he made the illegal turn? To our knowledge, police allowed the performer to leave without writing him a ticket or issuing a warning.

Best that we can gather is that Tyler Perry was cordial and cooperative, as his mother taught him, according to his Facebook page. I am thankful Madea wasn’t behind the wheel of that vehicle because we would most certainly have a different outcome to this story.

Seriously, unless there are more contemptible police actions to be uncovered it sounds as if Tyler has done a real disservice to the police department’s image and only helped increase his Facebook presence.

Kenny Burgamy serves as a marketing consultant and is co-host of the Kenny B. Charles E., TV, radio and Internet program.

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