Portland leader asks for an apology
By Michael Leighton
Mayor Ted Wheeler has called for a formal independent review into the events surrounding a report of an alleged hit-and-run crash on a Portland street that falsely named Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty as a suspect.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
“What happened to Commissioner Hardesty is wrong and unacceptable,” Mayor Wheeler said. “It’s a reflection of broader systemic racism and it must be addressed. We need to get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. No one should be subjected to false accusations publicly.”
Hardesty, a lifelong champion for police accountability in Portland, and the city’s first Black female member of the City Council, was relieved to see the truth prevail, but said she was frustrated by the unnecessary burden put on her office to disprove a completely false accusation.
“Now the Portland Police Bureau has admitted what we knew all along – I was not involved in any way with any hit and run incident and am not a suspect. While I am relieved to see the truth prevail, this incident brings up a number of urgent questions,” she said. “How did this false information get leaked to the Oregonian and fringe right wing media groups?”
Hardesty called on those who made the accusations to take responsibility and apologize, “I hope those that brought this harm to me and my office today will feel compelled to do the same.”
Earlier she called the allegations a partisan spear campaign involving a prominent Republican and other opponents to her demands for more police accountability.
“I’m telling you today, these allegations are false, and to be frank, these allegations are very suspicious," Hardesty said.
In a podcast on Thursday morning from the Coalition to Save Portland, a pro-police group and posted to Facebook, Jeff Reynolds, a former chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party and two others, Angela Todd and Gabriel Johnson, reported “breaking news” of a hit-and-run they said came from Portland Police.
The trio were gleeful to report Hardesty’s alleged involvement, repeating the allegations as fact and not offering much respect or credit for her history of navigating for police reforms on behalf of the Black community and others.
Hardesty made clear she could not be a suspect in an auto wreck, because she has not driven for months, as her car has been disabled and parked in the same spot for the last six months with a dead battery.
“As you all know, I use Lyft when I’m going somewhere I can’t walk," said Hardesty. "I’ve become an avid pedestrian since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”
“When you have taken on police accountability issues for as long as I have, you come to expect these kinds of attacks. I’ve experienced them in the past, and I expect I will continue to experience them in the future," the city commissioner concluded.