For those keeping track, here’s a (partial) list of the activities people of color can’t seem to enjoy without someone calling 911 to complain: sell water, go to the pool, smoke, mourn a loved one, be a firefighter, or throw a barbecue.
The latest entry: canvassing a neighborhood that you represent as an elected state official.
As the Oregonian reports, Oregon state Rep. Janelle Bynum, who is black, was going door-to-door in her district on July 3 as part of her campaign to serve a second term in the state House of Representatives. After about two hours of talking to her constituents, Bynum was confronted by a local Clackamas County deputy wanting to know why she was in the neighborhood.
A post shared by Rep. Janelle Bynum (@bynum4thewin) on Jul 4, 2018 at 12:58pm PDT
The deputy explained to Bynum, who was elected in 2016, that an unidentified woman had called 911 to report her presence, suspecting that she was casing the area for a potential robbery. The caller noted that Bynum was spending a lot of time on her phone — which, indeed, the state legislator was using to record notes and voter feedback for her campaign.
“It was just bizarre,” Bynum told the Oregonian. “It boils down to people not knowing their neighbors and people having a sense of fear in their neighborhoods, which is kind of my job to help eradicate. But at the end of the day, it’s important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings.”
Bynum later posed for a photo with the deputy, who agreed to her request to speak over the telephone with the woman who complained. According to Bynum, the woman apologized, adding that she was concerned about safety in the neighborhood. Her race and identity are unknown.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) July 4, 2018
The incident hasn’t put Bynum off canvassing as she prepares for another election.
“I hope everyone gets a good look at my face, because I’m coming to your door,” she said.
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