It was a Tuesday evening in August when a Madison police officer responded to a call on the city’s west side, where a silver sedan had been reported on suspicion of drug activity.
“FULLY OCCUPIED SILVER 4 DR SEDAN NEWER MODEL – THINKS THEY ARE WAITING FOR DRUGS AT THE LOCAL DRUG HOUSE – WOULD LIKE THEM MOVED ALONG,” read the notes from the call for service, made shortly before 7 p.m. on Aug. 7.
The driver of the car was 71-year-old Linda Hoskins. Her 8-year-old granddaughter sat in the backseat. Her daughter, Shelia Stubbs, stood nearby, talking to a resident of the neighborhood in his doorway. The two women and the child are all African-American.
Stubbs, 46, was a candidate for state Assembly and a 12-year veteran of the Dane County Board of Supervisors. She was knocking doors, introducing herself to voters in the 77th Assembly District. Exactly one week later, her name would appear on the ballot in the Democratic primary election, which she would win with nearly 50 percent of the vote.
But in the moments when she spotted the squad car next to her own vehicle, asked the officer what was wrong, explained what she was doing and tried to then explain to her daughter why any of it had happened, she was heartbroken and humiliated.
“It’s 2018,” Stubbs said in an interview. “It shouldn’t be strange that a black woman’s knocking on your door. I didn’t do anything to make myself stand out. I felt like they thought I didn’t belong there.”
The 77th District is a diverse one, covering some of Madison’s poorest neighborhoods — Allied Drive and Lake Point, as well as some of its wealthiest — Nakoma and Shorewood Hills. It was represented by Terese Berceau, who endorsed Stubbs for the seat when she decided not to run for re-election, for nearly two decades.
Because a police report detailing the incident redacted the names of the streets where the call was made, Stubbs declined to name the neighborhood she was in at the time. Yet she indicated that it was a predominantly white community.
But for Stubbs, who faces no Republican opponent in the Nov. 6 general election and is now, effectively, the district’s representative-elect, it doesn’t matter where she was. She wasn’t doing anything wrong, she said, and she deserved to be there. And if she could ask the person who called the police — identified in the report as a man, but with no other details — she would ask what made him think she didn’t belong in his neighborhood.
“I belong where I choose to go,” Stubbs said. “You don’t have to like me. You don’t even have to respect me. But I have a right to be places.”
SOURCE: Jessie Opoien
Madison.com / The Cap Times