An Oregon state representative said someone called the cops on her Tuesday while she was out canvassing door-to-door in a neighborhood she represents.
Rep. Janelle Bynum detailed the incident in a Facebook post, writing that a woman reported her to police because she found it “suspicious” that the Black Democrat “was spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone” after stopping at each home. Bynum, who’s running for re-election in the fall, said she was taking notes to keep account of the issues her constituents care about.
“I don’t believe this,” she recalled thinking to herself when she noticed a Clackamas County deputy patrol car pull up on her.
“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 is important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings.”
The lawmaker said taking notes is something she often does while out canvassing in the community, adding that she only had fliers, her phone and a pen on her when the deputy arrived. She said she introduced herself to the officer as a state legislator and stated her business in the neighborhood.
In her Facebook post, Bynum praised the deputy, who she identified as Officer Campbell, for his courteousness and professionalism in handling the situation. The officer informed her that a woman made the 911 call but that he didn’t know her race. It was also unclear which house the woman had called from.
Bynum, who represents District 51, asked the deputy if she could meet the woman, but she wasn’t available. The officer was able to get her on the phone, however, after which she apologized to Bynum and said she only called the police for “the safety of the neighborhood.”
“The officer called her, we talked and she did apologize,” Bynum wrote.
While she understood the woman’s concern, the lawmaker said she wished the woman would have tried talking to her first or contacted a neighbor instead of dialing 911.
“When people do things like this, it can be dangerous for people like me,” she recalled telling Officer Campbell.
In a separate statement to The Oregonian, Bynum said, “We all know that we’re not in a society that is perfect, and we have wounds that still need to heal. But at the end of the day, I want to know my kids can walk down the street without fear.”
Bynum estimates she’s knocked on over 70,000 doors over her years of campaigning and has never had the police called on her until now.
The incident comes amid a string of widely-publicized instances of racial profiling involving police. Just last week, a neighbor called the cops on a 12-year-old boy after he accidentally mowed a section of her lawn. Before that, a California woman called to report an 8-year-old girl selling water without a permit.