A black lawmaker says someone called the police on her when she was canvassing in her district

Janelle BynumJanelle Bynum represents District 51 in the Oregon House.
  • Janelle Bynum was campaigning door-to-door when the police were called on her, she wrote on Facebook.
  • The police acted “professionally” and the constituent who reported her apologised, she said.
  • She only had campaign fliers, her phone, and a pen on her while she was campaigning, she told newspaper The Oregonian.
  • “At the end of the day, I want to know my kids can walk down the street without fear,” she said.

A black lawmaker in Oregon said the police were called on her while she was out canvassing in a neighbourhood in her district.

Janelle Bynum, a Democratic state representative, wrote on Facebook that the police responded to a call that someone reported her for visiting multiple houses in the town of Clackamas on Tuesday.

Bynum wrote the caller reported her for “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!”

She said the officer who responded to the call acted “professionally,” and posted a selfie with him. She said she asked to meet the constituent who made the call, but the woman wasn’t home.

“The officer called her, we talked and she did apologise,” she wrote, adding the hashtag #letsbeletterneighbors.”


Bynum, 43, is running for reelection in November. She described the experience as “bizarre” to local newspaper The Oregonian.

“It boils down to people not knowing their neighbours and people having a sense of fear in their neighbourhoods, which is kind of my job to help eradicate,” she said. “But at the end of the day, it’s important for people to feel like they can talk to each other to help minimise misunderstandings.”

Bynum told the newspaper that she only had campaign fliers, her phone, and a pen on her while she was campaigning. She said it was the first time someone had reported her to the police in the 70,000 homes she’s visited in her years canvassing.

Bynum said she told the officer “when people do things like this, it can be dangerous for people like me.”

“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 told the newspaper.

Bynum was elected to the state house of representatives in 2016. Her district includes east Portland, Boring, Gresham, Damascus, North Clackamas, and Happy Valley, where she lives.

She has four children and runs a small business, according to her website.

Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon wrote on Twitter after the incident that Bynum is a “great Representative.”

“This tragic incident is a reminder of just how far we still have to go to become a more tolerant society,” he wrote.

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