On Wednesday, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty stated that it was the Portland police, not the rioters in the city, who started fires around government buildings and triggered violence.
“I am old enough to remember that during the Civil Rights movement, the police had provocateurs…intentionally added to the group to do disruptive stuff,” Hardesty told Marie Claire. “I have no doubt in my mind, I believe with all my heart, that that is what Portland police are doing … I believe Portland Police [Bureau] is lying about the damage — or starting the fires themselves — so that they have justification for attacking community members.”
Speaking at a webinar on Wednesday hosted by Western States Center, Hardesty stated, “I absolutely believe that it is police action, and they are sending saboteurs and provocateurs into peaceful crowds so that they can justify their inhumane treatment of people who are standing up for their rights.”
“Portland police have consistently lied to the public,” the city commissioner continued. “They’ve lied to our congressional delegation about whether or not they were coordinating activities with this federal secret police force. Portland was never out of control. Portland’s police overreacted, which gave 45 [President Trump] permission to send in these troops,” as Willamette Week reported. “We have an ignorance at the highest levels in our city government,” Hardesty added, “people who just assumed that if the police said it happened, it really happened.”
In the Marie Claire interview, Hardesty attacked President Trump, saying, “Forty-five does not want to hold an election in November because he knows he will lose, even with all the dirty tricks he will play. And so we may end up with martial law and elections canceled because there’s too much urban unrest for us to do something stupid, like voting someone into office.”
Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, fired back at Hardesty over her charges against the police. “If Commissioner Hardesty has evidence of her outlandish accusation, she should immediately produce it,” he asserted. “Of course, there is no such evidence. This is just one more example of Commissioner Hardesty putting her personal political agenda ahead of the best interests of the citizens of Portland.”
Wednesday night, Hardesty apologized for her allegation provided without evidence. “Today I let my emotions get the most of me during council and the comment I made to the press,” Hardesty said. “But I’m angry, frustrated, and horrified by what has happened these past 50 days. I’m angry that even as a City Commissioner, I am coming up against countless barriers from protecting protesting Portlanders from the deluge of tear gas, pepper spray, and other munitions on a nightly basis. Every night I am terrified that someone will be killed because of an officers’ inability to de-escalate or walk away from a situation. Or my worst fear, that those that seek to discredit protests are helping initiate it.”
She continued: “As a child of the Civil Rights movement, it is my experience – and those who studied history know this too – that in justice movements and mass protests, people have been sent to infiltrate these spaces to create incidents that justify enhanced police actions. Using unfounded claims and misinformation is something no one in any position of power should do, and you deserve better. I appreciate the reminder that as a public servant I need to be careful making statements out of misinformation, and I take this to heart. I hope this is something Portland Police Bureau will also remember as they put out nightly statements regarding the protests, their conduct, and their involvement with federal officers, because we can all agree lives are on the line.”
“We all have bad days but most of them don’t happen publicly,” Hardesty added. “I have always said we can disagree without being disagreeable, but today I did not meet that standard, and I’m sorry.”
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