An interracial couple was met at home by police after a local Republican official confronted them for spreading “socialism” in her Pennsylvania neighborhood by campaigning for a Democratic candidate.
Amanda Kemp, a visiting scholar at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, said she and her husband were allowed entry to the Bent Creek community in Manheim Township after giving the name of a voter they planned to visit, reported WITF-FM.
That voter wasn’t home, and Kemp said she and her husband determined none of the gated community’s rules specifically prohibited canvassing, so they drove on to the next name on their list of voters.
Kemp, who is black, said a white woman with gardening shears called out to them.
“What are you doing here? You can’t do that here,” the woman said, according to Kemp.
The couple explained they were canvassing for Jess King, a Democrat who’s challenging first-term U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), and Kemp said the woman became loud and aggressive.
“I hate Jess King,” the woman said, according to Kemp. “She’s trying to take us to socialism. You can’t do that here.”
Bent Creek, which was built in the 1990s around a country club and golf course, has been listed as one of the wealthiest 1,000 neighborhoods in the U.S. and is nearly 90 percent white.
The woman, who was later identified as Elizabeth “Duffy” Johnson, a member of the Republican Committee of Lancaster County and Smucker campaign volunteer, took the couple’s picture, and the white woman covered her face when they tried to take hers.
“All of this is private property,” Johnson said. “You can’t be in here at all. I’m calling the police.”
She started to dial and Kemp and her husband, Michael Jamanis, left and called campaign volunteer headquarters to report the encounter, and King later called her.
They decided to go home, and a police car pulled up about five minutes later.
Jamanis, who Johnson had apparently recognized during their encounter, spoke with the officer, who asked a few questions before before determining no criminal violations had taken place.
Johnson’s attorney disagrees, saying the couple was trespassing at Bent Creek.
“This matter is about trespassing. The volunteers from Jess King’s campaign entered private property and became aggressive,” said attorney Edwin Pfursich. “They were asked to leave and refused, so the police were notified.”
Kemp and her husband remain baffled by the situation, but she said racism is more than simply yelling the N-word.
“There was an undertone,” Kemp said. “Her attitude really reinforces racial attitudes about inequality.”