Jeannine Lee Lake, the only black woman running for federal office in Indiana, has been the target of a racist harassment during her current campaign. She’s running against Mike Pence’s brother Greg Pence, who previously defeated her when she campaigned in 2018.
According to AP reports, Lake says she’s received numerous racist and threatening messages during her campaign for the congressional seat in Indiana’s 6th District. Her fear reached new heights last week after hearing what she thought was gunfire before a campaign event.
Lake told the AP she had just parked outside Vera Mae’s Bistro in Muncie Thursday when she heard what she believes were three gunshots outside her driver’s side window and called police. Muncie’s Police Capt. Steve Cox said officers responded to the scene shortly after 8 p.m. An investigation is ongoing, according to Cox.
Scary stuff right? We’re sad to see fear tactics have continued to be such a big part of American politics in 2020.
Lake said she started getting racist phone messages and damage to personal property after the Delaware County GOP published her personal address and contact information in a Facebook post late this summer. She says many of the voicemails contained racial slurs and foul language directed toward her.
“You’re nothing but a loudmouth frickin’ n(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk),” a man said in one of the messages Lake shared with The Associated Press.
Insane. It gets worse than the calls too. Lake says last month she and two of her campaign aides were mailed a 22 page document that included private details about her pending divorce and personal whereabouts. The research included information that isn’t available online — and Lake said she considered the packages to be “personal threats”.
While this obviously rattled Lake, Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman, who reviewed the case, said the documents contained “no explicit or implicit threats” and “no crime has been committed.”
In September, however, a crime was committed. Lake made a sheriff’s office report after property at her home was vandalized. She said a personal cellphone, door magnets and campaign signs were taken from her campaign RV after the back window was broken into. Pence denied involvement in both incidents and asked for a full investigation. His spokesman, Kyle Robertson spoke with the Associated Press on Friday, repeating Pence’s request for an investigation.
“Congressman Greg Pence does not condone any sort of this behavior and supports a full investigation,” Robertson told the AP.
Lake is now considering suspending all in-person campaign activities over safety concerns for her and her staff.
“I’m afraid, and I hate that I feel this way,” she said. “But all of these things together, it has my senses heightened — way more than during any campaigning before.”
During her campaign Lake has spoken out against racism and in support of civil rights. This summer she also critiqued Pence on social media after an antiques mall he co-owns in Edinburgh, Indiana was discovered to be selling items which included racist depictions of African Americans.
What would you do if you were Jeannine Lee Lake? Would you avoid in-person events as well? Even if Greg Pence isn’t directly responsible, do you think he should be doing more to discourage his supporters from targeting his opponent in his way?