Both are graduates of Monona High School. One played football for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Two recent Monona Grove High graduates, one who went on to play football at the University of Iowa, had guns drawn on them Tuesday after a neighbor called the police to report “there was someone at her neighbor’s home that she did not believe should be there.”
The caller said the resident of the home had passed away and the home had been vacant for some time. The resident did identify the individual sitting in front of the home as African American, however that was not conveyed to the responding officers, according to a press release from the Monona Police Department.
On Wednesday, one of the men, Toren Young posted a message on Facebook pleading with people not to call the police on their black neighbors.
Young is a graduate of Monona High School and a former running back for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes.
“So please and I repeat please do not call the police on your black neighbor because you are unfamiliar with them. You going over to speak to them and or greet them vs. call the police on them can help avoid any misunderstandings and can sadly be the difference between life and death,” wrote Young in the post.
According to Madison365, Young recently started staying in the house on Arrowhead Drive. It is owned by Monona Grove assistant football coach Mark Rundle. The house was Rundle’s mother’s home. She recently passed away.
Keonte Furdge, a 2016 graduate of Monona Grove High School, had recently been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and had been staying with Young, his friend and former football teammate, according to Madison365.
The incident comes at a time when people across the country have been protesting daily since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers May 25. It also follows a pattern of white people calling the police on African Americans who are not committing a crime but doing normal, everyday activities.
Furdge told Madison365 he was on the porch around 9 a.m. Tuesday in a tank top, boxers and slide sandals talking on the phone with a friend.
“I was talking about the neighborhood and telling him how nice the neighborhood is, and how we should start going for walks and running in this neighborhood,” he said.
About 20 minutes later, he had gone inside and heard police enter and start shouting.
Click here for the full interview with Furdge.
According to the press release, the call came to the department around 10:50 a.m. Tuesday morning from a resident on the 5100 block of Arrowhead Drive.
When officers arrived at the home they found the front door unsecured. They knocked and announced their presence, according to the Monona Police. Furdge said this did not happen.
They could hear someone talking inside, but nobody came to greet them, according to the police statement.
Following protocol, and believing this was possibly a burglary to a residence, they entered the house with guns drawn. Officers made contact with a 23-year-old black male and placed him in handcuffs while they investigated.
According to the press release, the man told them he was renting the house from the son of the recently deceased owner. The homeowner’s son was subsequently contacted. Once he confirmed their stories, the handcuffs were removed.
In his Facebook post, Young said he and the other man involved in the incident went to the Monona Police Department Wednesday to explain their frustrations.
He said they were told by officers that they were “just following protocol and that this was all a misunderstanding.”
“They were right in the fact that this was a misunderstanding but, this is a misunderstanding that we as a community cannot accept nor afford,” Young said. “All it took was one wrong move and the outcome would have been very different. We can do better than this!”
The men filed a complaint with the Monona Police Department. In the statement, the department said it is “committed to creating an environment of trust and empathy in all our interactions between the public and our peace officers and this complaint will be thoroughly investigated.”
Young said in his post that the officers told him “it is very common for them to get calls from members of the community because they fear black people.”
Two recent examples that made headlines included a white woman calling the New York Police on Christian Cooper, an African American man, after he asked her to follow the rules and put her dog on a leash.
On Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two white men in Georgia while out for a jog. The men said they thought he was a burglar.
“For the white folks in the community who are intimidated, scared, or threatened by black people or any other person of color in your neighborhood and are unfamiliar with them because they are new to your neighborhood I encourage you to stop by and say hello,” Young said. “Introduce yourself, welcome them to the neighborhood, or even give them a smile and wave! I promise you we do not bite!”
It seems one of his younger neighbors already knows how to welcome people to the neighborhood. In another post from Wednesday, Young shares a photo of a card he received following the incident.
“You are you. You can be friends with anyone and I can be friends with you.”