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Woman calls police on black representative canvassing her own district

The woman who phoned 911 later apologized.

Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum took a photo with the police officer called. (Credit: Facebook)
Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum took a photo with the police officer called. (Credit: Facebook)

A black state representative canvassing a neighborhood in her own district was stopped by a police officer, after a woman dialed 911 to report that she was going door to door.

Representative Janelle Bynum (D), who is running for her second term in the Oregon State House of Representatives, spent two hours on Tuesday afternoon canvassing the community of Clackamas, near Portland.

According to the Oregonian, Bynum had nearly finished her rounds when a Clackamas county deputy pulled up next to her. The deputy explained to Bynum that they’d received a report that someone was spending a long time in the neighborhood and appeared to be taking notes about the houses on her phone.

“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.”

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Bynum said that the deputy who responded was courteous and professional, and even agreed to take a photo with her, which she later posted on her Facebook page. She also made contact with the woman who made the initial 911 call, who apologized. Her race is not known.

“Big shout out to Officer Campbell who responded professionally to someone who said that I was going door to door and spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone after each house,” Bynum said on Facebook. “AKA canvassing and keeping account of what my community cares about!”

Bynum’s ordeal is only the latest example of police receiving ridiculous 911 calls that complain about African-Americans engaging in completely benign and harmless activity. Last week, police in Cleveland received a 911 call about a 12-year-old African-American boy mowing a lawn. Earlier in June, a San Francisco woman faked a 911 call to complain about an eight-year old African-American girl selling water on the sidewalk. After the incident went viral the woman apologized — but said the incident had nothing to do with race.