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Woman Calls 911 On Black Politician Campaigning In Oregon Neighborhood

State Rep. Janelle Bynum, a Democrat running for her second term in the state House of Representatives, said the deputy responding to the call was courteous and professional.

By Samira Sadeque

An Oregon woman allegedly called the police on a black state representative who was canvassing a neighborhood in Clackamas County for her campaign.

State Rep. Janelle Bynum, identified by local media as a Democrat running for her second term in the state House of Representatives, wrote on her Facebook page on Tuesday about the experience, posting a photo with the officer who responded 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 — aka canvassing and keeping account of what my community cares about!”

Bynum was going door to door talking to residents in the neighborhood in Southeast 125th Avenue, according to The Oregonian/Oregon Live, a Portland-based daily newspaper. She was wrapping up her visit to about 30 homes, and taking notes on her phone from her last conversation when she was approached by a Clackamas County deputy.

When he asked her about her activities, she introduced herself and told him about her campaign. The deputy said someone reported Bynum going around the neighborhood and taking notes on her phone, according to CNN.

Bynum told The Oregonian/Oregon Live that she takes notes on her phone to keep an account of her conversations with the community, and was only carrying fliers, a pen and her cellphone.

“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,” she told the newspaper.

The incident took place just a few months after a Starbucks employee in Philadelphia called the police on two black men who were sitting in the coffee shop, leading to a nationwide discussion on racial profiling in the country. 

Bynum was pleased with the way the deputy handled the situation, according to her Facebook post.

“Big shout out to Officer Campbell who responded professionally…” she wrote, sharing a smiling photo of her with the deputy.

She also offered to meet the person who reported her, but she was not in the neighborhood any longer, according to her post. The deputy put her on the phone with the woman who then apologized to Bynum.

“At the end of the day, it's important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimize misunderstandings," she told The Oregonian/Oregon Live.

Bynum told the newspaper that she aims to continue campaigning and might even return to this neighborhood.

 [Photo: Janelle Bynum took a selfie with the deputy who was responding to the 911 call. By Janelle Bynum]