An Oregon state lawmaker was pulled over by a local sheriff in the town of Clackamas, just outside Portland on Tuesday. She was out campaigning, knocking on doors and meeting residents to explain her position on issues and hopefully win their votes. Her crime? CWB: Campaigning While Black.
The Oregonian reported Wednesday that Rep. Janelle Bynum, who’s seeking a second term in the state House of Representatives, was just leaving the second to last house she had planned to visit for the day, when a patrol car pulled up to her. She knew instantly why he was there.
“I don’t believe this,” she remembers saying to herself.
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“He asked her if she was selling something,” Everton Bailey, Jr. of The Oregonian reported. “She introduced herself as a state legislator and said that she was out canvassing and that she guessed someone called him.
The deputy said someone called and reported Bynum appearing to spend a long time at houses in the area and appearing to be casing the neighborhood while on her phone.
“It was just bizarre,” she said of the incident. “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.”
Sadly, this is just the latest of a series of racial profiling incidents. In Ohio, a resident called the police to report a boy mowing a lawn. In San Francisco, a women called 911 when she saw a young girl selling water on a hot day without a permit. And across the Bay in Oakland, another woman called the cops to report a man barbecuing in the park with a charcoal grill instead of a gas grill.
All of those incidents share a shameful trend: white citizens calling the cops on Black residents.
Thankfully, the deputy who responded to the call quickly realized how outrageous the report was and spent a few minutes chatting with her and then moved on.
Portland, Oregon is one of the most progressive cities in the country. If an African American woman, who’s already been elected to office, can’t canvas a neighborhood in a suburb here without rousing suspicions from residents, then where can she?