A Clackamas, Ore., woman has touched off a national firestorm by calling 911 on state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-East Portland and Happy Valley), who was campaigning door-to-door for reelection.
WW has obtained the audio of the 911 call.
"And the weird thing is, is that she just stops at the end of the driveway whether or not she talks to somebody," the caller, Jasmine Piazzisi, tells the 911 dispatcher on July 3. "So, she like knocks on the door and then if somebody is there or not, she'll stop at the end of the driveway and enters something into her phone. And I mean it takes a couple minutes per house."
The dispatcher asks: "Is she a white female?"
"Uh, no," Piazzisi replies. "She's African American from what I can tell. Her hair is up in a bun."
The Oregonian first reported Tuesday that Bynum was canvassing a Clackamas neighborhood when she was approached by a Clackamas County Sheriff's deputy.
Bynum figured out that someone had called the police on her.
Piazzisi told the sheriff's office she was suspicious because Bynum was stopping at houses where there was no one home.
But in modern campaigning practices, candidates and their canvassers routinely enter data into a system when someone isn't home to note they need to return.
Another supposedly suspicious behavior: not coming to the caller's home.
But that's also pretty easily explained. Candidates usually target likely supporters. Bynum is a Democrat. Records show the caller is registered with the Independent Party, and so not a likely Bynum voter.
WW's calls to Piazzisi were not immediately returned.
Listen to the audio here:
Bynum provided her own account of the incident on Facebook.
Dispatcher: Police and Fire dispatch.
Caller: Hi, so I just wanted to kind of inform you guys that we have this lady that's been walking up from Mather, and uhm, like for no apparent reason is walking from house to house. And she's not in like any business or have any badge or have anything [interrupted].
D: Can you tell me where this is at?
C: Oh yea, of course that would probably help. Uhm so she walked up from Mather Road and now she's walking on 125th. And the weird thing is, is that she just stops at the end of the driveway whether or not she talks to somebody. So, she like knocks on the door and then if somebody is there or not, she'll stop at the end of the driveway and enters something into her phone. And I mean it takes a couple minutes per house.
D: Did she talk to you or did you talk to her at all?
C: No, I didn't. So, My son said "hi" to her because he's three and says "hi" to everybody. But then she like didn't come to us but she's gone to every other house that's like…
D: When people aren't home?
C: It looks like not home.
D: Okay, that's what I'm saying. So, when people aren't home she stops and goes to the… [interrupted]
C: Oh, I'm sorry. Yea. It looks like she spends more time at the end of the driveway for people who are not home. And she's gone to one, two, three, four… She's on her seventh house that I can see. I just think it's weird because usually people are out of town for this weekend and I don't recognize her, so… and she clearly like avoided us.
D: You guys were outside at the time?
C: Yea, we're packing actually to leave for for the Fourth, so. So, We've been back and forth for the last half an hour and I mean it doesn't seem she has any real reason that we can tell. And she's just in regular street clothes, like camo pants and a white shirt and no badge that I can see.
D: Is she a white female?
C: Uh, no. She's African American from what I can tell. Her hair is up in a bun.
D: How old?
C: Uhm, I would say late thirties, early forties just from what I saw across the street.
D: Ok. Medium, heavy build?
C: Uhm, kind of between medium and heavy build.
D: How tall?
C: Mmm… No taller than 5'9", again, across the street.
D: And her hair is in a bun?
C: Yeah. It's black.
D: What's she wearing?
C: Uh, White t-shirt, like a 3/4 sleeve t-shirt and, uh, like capris, uh, camo pants is what it looked like.
D: Alright. We'll have them check it out, okay?
C: Would you be able to let us know if they find out anything or? 'Cause like I said we're going out of town, so if we need to come back to the house for any reason.
D: I don't, I mean, If you want an extra call, I can put in a request that they contact you with what they find. It's just a lot of times they're going between call to call. Especially on the holiday. I can put the request in though.
C: If they have time that would be great, but if not it's no big deal. We're just curious ourselves because we're going out of town.
C: Ok. I appreciate your time. Thank you so much. Bye.
D: No problem. Bye.