I was once told when stopped that I “don’t look like a legislator” and thus need additional screening. After that incident I they clarified that it was because I looked “too young.” I’m not the youngest legislator in the OH General Assembly.— Emilia Sykes (@EmiliaSykesOH) May 31, 2018
An African-American lawmaker in Ohio has come with her account where she claimed she had been a victim of racial discrimination by statehouse security.
Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) of Ohio's 34th district in Summit County recounted incidents where she was reportedly stopped at the entrance of the statehouse building multiple times. She added security at the building stopped her despite the fact that she displayed her badge at all times.
“I was able to get in but not after being told that my ID wasn't visible enough and I needed to stop and prove myself, even though I did what I and others always do,” she said in a tweet.
The 34-year-old lawmaker added she even had to go through additional screenings, however, her white colleagues easily walked past security without getting checked.
In another incident that took place in Feb. 2017, she said as she was walked into the building with a white colleague, statehouse security stopped her and told her they wanted to search her bag.
Sykes colleague told the security officer that she was a state lawmaker and didn’t have to get searched. However, the guard said “he didn’t care who she was.” Minutes later, the guard let her go without searching her bag.
The Democratic lawmaker added she asked the guard the reason behind the action because she wanted clarification. She said security officers told her they stopped her because “she didn’t look like a legislator” and later claimed they made the remark because Sykes “looked too young.”
“I showed my badge, I had my lapel pin on, I pointed at it and asked if I could get through without being searched. The answer was, emphatically, no. I wasn’t hiding anything, but that was not the rule as far as I understood it to be. I was not going to let my personal affects be searched,” she said.
Sykes later reached out to Ohio State Highway Patrol, as it monitors statehouse security, and complained about the discriminatory incident.
A representative of the agency got back to her and apologized for the incident. The spokesperson added the guard was new which is why the incident occurred.
“I followed every rule that they had, and even a couple extras, and still that was not enough. What else do I have to do to prove to you or show to you that I’m allowed to be here? If it’s totally upon my looks, I mean, give me a break. That can’t be how we determine who does and does not have access to leadership,” she added.
Racism related incidents have spiked since President Donald Trump assumed office. So much so, that even a lawmaker is asked to prove identity.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: ohiohouse.gov