By Jessie Balmert
COLUMBUS – State Rep. Emilia Sykes was walking to work in the Ohio Statehouse in 2016 with a fellow lawmaker when she was stopped by security. Officers needed to search her bag, she was told.
Sykes is serving her third year as a Democratic state representative from Akron. She is also a 32-year-old black woman. Her colleague, who was not searched, is a 65-year-old white man who has served in the Legislature for many years.
Sykes said she questioned why her bag needed to be searched when that wasn't protocol. Lawmakers only need a badge to gain access to the Statehouse or the nearby Riffe Center, which houses many lawmakers' offices.
Her colleague told the trooper Sykes was a member of the Ohio House.
She was told: "You don't look like a legislator." The trooper then clarified: "You look too young."
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