September 29, 2022

Police called political candidates in Muhlenburg County KY

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Dustin Burley and others who knocked on the door Saturday called in police while in Muhlenburg County.

Dustin Burley

A Lawrenceburg man running for a Kentucky state representative seat said he experienced a first Saturday when police were called on him and others knocked on the door for political campaigns.

53rd District candidate Dustin Burley was in Muhlenberg County campaigning on behalf of others as part of the Black Caucus for Kentucky Young Democrats.

“In all the years I knocked on doors, I never called the police,” Burley said. “I have heard horror stories, however, of others who have done it.”

While knocking on doors, something he had been doing for over a decade, he drove into a mobile home and entered a fence gate to put a door hanger on the door when a woman stopped him and told him he couldn’t get through the door.

“I said I was sorry, you know there are different rules in different places,” he said. “I had no idea. I put the sign on the gate and I didn’t go through the door. … She told me she didn’t want to talk, because she was angry because that her roof was leaking, which I understood. I left and saw that she was annoyed, which is completely understandable.

Another member of the group wandered around the back of the house unaware of what had just happened with Burley, he recalled. He said the woman saw them, said they had to leave, and they left.

“We walked across the street to where we were parked and then the police came in no time and were behind us,” he said.

The officer told Burley and the others the woman said they were soliciting.

“The cop was nice…” Burley said. “Campaigning and canvassing is not solicitation, and she knows it. Even when there are no signs of solicitation, you can still leave a door hanger or knock, but out of respect you don’t.

Although this is the first time he has personally experienced this, Burley said it was a reality he had to be prepared for when campaigning as a black man in rural areas.

“We were annoyed, and when you’re a black candidate in white counties, unfortunately that’s the reality,” he said. “You know, people will be petty or they will feel threatened when they see a group of another race that they wouldn’t usually see.

“They’re raised to look at skin colors differently and that’s exactly how people are raised – to hate each other. Sometimes it might as well be the 1960s or even pre-reconstruction, the way some people look at others,” Burley added. “Not only were we amazed, but it’s one of the saddest things, but the cops are probably going to be called on candidates like us.”

Burley shared a tweet on social media that showed him and other band members standing with the police car and received hundreds of likes, comments and retweets.

It read, “Hitting while black in western Kentucky and calling the police because we were trying to talk to voters about local issues.

Despite this experience, Burley said it was still the best-case scenario of what could have happened and that he would continue to stay positive.

“You have to have an optimistic attitude in this state,” he laughed. “It’s one of the joys of running for office.”

This story was originally published July 10, 2022 5:38 p.m.

Taylor Six is ​​the criminal justice reporter at the Herald-Leader. She was born and raised in Lexington at Lafayette High School. She graduated from Eastern Kentucky University in 2018 with a degree in journalism. She previously worked as a government reporter for the Richmond Register.