Rep. Janelle Bynum and Officer Campbell
Rep. Janelle Bynum and Officer Campbell
Image: Janelle Bynum

In yet another instance of racist people using 911 as their personal concierge service, on Tuesday a woman in Oregon called the cops on a black state legislator who was canvassing neighborhoods in her own district.


The Oregonian reports that Rep. Janelle Bynum, a first-term Democrat running for re-election this fall, was “taking notes on her cellphone”—a very threatening activity!—when a deputy pulled up next to her and began asking questions:

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.

The deputy, to his credit, obliged Bynum’s request to talk to the caller over the phone. The woman apologized to Bynum but said that “she called 911 for the safety of her neighborhood, Bynum said.” We don’t know the race of this lady, but we do know that she feared for her life at the sight of a black woman with a cell phone walking through her street.


Bynum responded to the incident with grace that I personally could not muster, which is one of many reasons why she is an elected official and I am not:

Bynum said she understood the woman’s concerns but felt the woman could have tried talking to her first or contacting a neighbor to speak to her rather than calling the cops. The deputy could have responded to a more urgent call instead, she said.

“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.


So far, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office has not commented on “the incident.” Meanwhile, Cell Phone Sally remains comfortably anonymous in her home, where she is free to be as racist as possible.

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.

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