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Akron State Rep. Sykes Says She's Regularly Challenged by Statehouse Security and Race is the Reason

Photo of Emilia Sykes
Emilia Sykes says security has told her she doesn't "look" like a state lawmaker.

Rep. Sykes is 32-years old and African American. She says it’s hard to explain why she is being singled out. At the very least, she says it’s inconvenient and irritating.

But she says there is another reason for her raising awareness of her concerns.

“What is the face of leadership? Is it a middle-age white man, or a millennial black woman?

“I am hopeful people will start to recognize that leaders in our communities and our state are not monolithic.”

 Possible profiling

According to Sykes, she says she’s even been told by a state trooper working security that he was stopping her and inspecting her personal belongings because she didn’t “look like a legislator” to him.  And, she says she has been the lone representative stopped and searched while walking into the state office tower with whole groups of colleages after some procedures in the House.

Who is in charge?

Sykes says she has begun to search for the person or persons in charge of security but has been unable to nail down anyone with overall authority. And she says, “It’s getting harder and harder to explain this away as just a coincidence or a hiccup, or a misunderstanding. There is a pattern here. And that’s what I’m trying to address. ”   

The Ohio State Highway Patrol supplies uniformed security at the Capitol.  It said it has not received any formal complaints from Rep. Sykes but has reached out to her for a meeting.