OR woman calls 911 on black lawmaker canvassing neighborhood

07 July, 2018, 15:39 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • County deputy who responded to a 911 call from one of her constituents who thought she looked suspicious as she was canvassing in a Clackamas neighborhood

A Black family eating at a Subway in Georgia got a visit from police and a Black Oregon state representative had a check-in from the cops for canvassing - in the neighborhood she represents.

"It was just freaky", Bynum told local publication, The Oregonian.

The deputy said somebody called 911 to say she appeared to be lingering around homes while on her phone and feared she was casing the neighborhood. 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. "It was just weird", Bynum said. "I was, of course, in disbelief".

The caller described Bynum as African American when asked by the dispatcher.

Other recent incidences of police being called include on a teen while at a community pool, a Yale graduate student who napped in her dorm building lounge, and a pair of real estate agents who were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks while waiting for their client.

Such encounters, often amplified on social media after being captured on cellphone videos and police body cameras, have increasingly become a rallying cry to address entrenched racism in the United States.

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"This coming on the heels of the shooting of Jason Washington, I think it's 'here we go again, '" Smith said.

The incident ended in an apology from the concerned resident and a selfie featuring Bynum and the responding officer - both all smiles. The unidentified woman was apologetic and claimed that she made the call because she was concerned about the safety of the neighborhood.

Usually, Bynum said, when someone wrongly calls the police on another person, the caller doesn't receive feedback. The dispatcher said she would put in a request for it to happen. "It's OK for people to call when they think something is wrong, but it is also OK for people who have been called on to feel a sting and to acknowledge that being accused of something hurts". Bynum, who is black, was in a predominantly white area.

Bynum, 43, is running for reelection in November. She was first elected to office in 2016 after defeating her Republican opponent with 51 percent of the vote.

The deputy asked if she was selling something, and she introduced herself as a state legislator and told him she was canvassing, Bynum said.

"When people do things like this, it can be unsafe for people like me", Bynum told the deputy, who asked the lawmaker whether he'd made her feel uncomfortable.

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