In, yet, another episode of #LivingWhileBlack, a black female politician in Oregon said a woman in the neighborhood called the cops on her for campaigning, door to door.
On Tuesday, Janelle Bynum took to Facebook to share the story.
“Live from the mean streets of Clackamas!!! Big shout out to Officer Campbell who responded professionally to someone who said that I was going door to door spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone after each house,” she wrote, clarifying the fact that she was actually, “canvassing.”
Ahead of the forthcoming re-election campaign, Bynum said she was just taking notes of the conversations she had with voters to keep “account of what my community cares about.” However, as she continued, the politician was stopped in her tracks by an officer, who asked if she was soliciting or selling anything in her door to door campaign.
In turn, Bynum introduced herself as a member of the State Legislature, and explained to the officer that such phone calls to the police could be “dangerous for people like me.”
“It was just bizarre,” Bynum said of the incident, adding that in her years of campaigning this was the first time someone had called the cops on her. “It boils down to people not knowing their neighbors and people having a sense of fear in their neighbourhoods, which is kind of my job to help eradicate. But at the end of the day, it’s important to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings,” she said.
Although the incident was resolved with Bynum’s explanation, she asked the officer to call the woman who thought she looked suspicious. The officer complied, the two had a conversation and the woman apologized.
“My post was partially about reinforcing a community expectation on professionalism in law enforcement,” she told The Independent. “I wanted to highlight an interaction that went well, even though it stung to have my campaigning mistaken for potential criminal behaviour.”
“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,” she said.