In two months, at least three politicians have had the cops called on them while they were campaigning, for no apparent reason. There's another thing they have in common: They're all black.
Last month, Sheila Stubbs — who ended up winning her bid for a Wisconsin state assembly seat — was campaigning door to door, introducing herself to voters, when someone called the police because they believed Stubbs was “waiting for drugs at the local drug house,” according to an Aug. 7 police notes.
Stubbs says her mother was driving her around as she campaigned and her 8-year-old daughter was in the backseat when a police squad car pulled up to question them. She felt humiliated.
"It's 2018," Stubbs told the local news outlet Cap Times. "It shouldn't be strange that a black woman's knocking on your door. I didn't do anything to make myself stand out. I felt like they thought I didn't belong there."
Stubbs is, of course, not the only politician who has faced racism while on the campaign trail. An Oregon state representative, Janelle Bynum, said in July that someone called the police on her while she was canvassing because she was “spending a lot of time typing on my cell phone after each house.” The woman who called the police apologized to her in a subsequent phone call.
And Jesse Hamilton, a former member of the New York State Senate, said a woman who self-identified as a supporter of Donald Trump called the police on him in August in New York City for handing out political literature in a public space. Hamilton’s pamphlets urged Democrats to unite against Trump, and the woman expressed disgust and urged Hamilton to leave the public area, which he refused to do. Hamilton, who was part of the Independent Democratic Conference that was allied with New York Senate Republicans, was defeated in the primary by challenger Zellnor Myrie.
Of course, it's not just politicians. In April, a black teenager in Rochester Hills, Mich. was shot at after he missed his bus and knocked on a stranger’s door to try to get directions to his school. The woman who answered the door said she assumed he was trying to break in, and called her husband, Jeffrey Zeigler, over to stop him.
“She was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High,” 14-year-old Brennan Walker told a local TV news station. “And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun. I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot.”
Walker was unharmed. Zeigler is facing charges of assault with intent to murder and felony firearms violations.
Cover image: Sheila Stubbs