Black legislators in Ohio report that security is cherry-picking who they allow in and if you’re black that means you’ll more often than not get stopped at the Statehouse doors.
It’s a discriminatory culture that State Rep. Emilia Sykes said she’s had to deal with several times, reports USA Today. Last year, she said a security officer searched her bag, but not the belongings of the 65-year-old white colleague she was with.
The junior Democratic state representative from Akron said she was told by a security officer:
“You don’t look like a legislator.” Then the trooper tried to clear up his tongue slip: “You look too young.”
The 32-year-old believes she is being targeted because she’s black. The profiling happened again on Wednesday when she had an issue gaining access to the Riffe Center for a meeting. Sykes said she showed her badge but security kept saying they couldn’t see it and then proceeded to closely examine it.
Sykes said these situations make her uneasy because not every lawmaker faces the same scrutiny, Sykes said.
“It’s just hard to find out what is the security rule,” Sykes said. “They seem to be a moving target for different people.”
An African-American Rep. Alicia Reece, D-Roselawn, said it happened to her too.
She forgot her badge, had an intern retrieve it and bring it to her, but security still scrutinized it even though her photo was on it.
Reece believes that new security guards being added could be reason why this keeps happening. She hopes that the incidents lessen so that lawmakers don’t continue to be locked out.
“I’m hopeful that these are isolated incidents that can be corrected and never happen again,” Reece said.
Sykes said she has complained several times and interim House spokesman Brad Miller he would follow up with her about the issue. Mille said the incidents would be “taken very seriously.”