Ohio representative says security guard told her she doesn’t ‘look like a legislator’

Ohio Statehouse Newsroom

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lawmaker from Akron says she has been stopped by security more than once in her Ohio legislative career and asked to provide additional identification.

State Rep. Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, says she is concerned those visiting the Statehouse or other government offices may be subjected to unfair scrutiny. 

Jeniece Brock, a friend of Sykes’, sent a tweet May 30 claiming Sykes was stopped while arriving at the Riffe Center and that though the lawmaker presented her badge, a security guard stopped her to question her. 

Sykes released a statement on the incident Tuesday after discussing it on Twitter. She was elected to the House in Nov. 2014. 

On Twitter, the Akron Democrat said the May 30 incident “wasn’t the worst day.” 

“I’ve had an interesting go with statehouse and Riffe security. 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 the Tweet

She said in another Tweet that she had been stopped before.

“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.”

Sykes’ statement in full: 

“Many times I have seen lobbyists, staff and others come through the same doors as I do, but are not subject to the same targeting and scrutiny. While not any everyday occurrence, the regularity of these additional searches leaves me uncertain with what type of shakedown I will receive when trying to get to committee or session.  

“I appreciate the need for extra security and I respect the admirable service of the highway patrol officers who protect us daily. However, simply brushing off these incidents as hiccups that come along with new security measures is becoming difficult.

“The confusion and uneven enforcement of security measures further highlight the ongoing chaos at the Statehouse. It is my hope that by coming forward we can finally resolve these issues so that I, my colleagues and the citizens who come to have their voices heard at the Statehouse can do so with without confusion or unfair targeting. Ensuring access to the statehouse – “The Peoples’ house” – is important to me, and it should be a shared priority by everyone at our state’s capitol.”

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