Hardesty talks policy as police union demands investigation
Despite intense criticism from the city's police union, Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty amped up her demands for law enforcement reform during a forum with two U.S. lawmakers.
Hardesty joined Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Massachusetts, for a virtual town hall on Tuesday, July 28. The trio answered pre-selected questions on topics ranging from the nightly protests to racial justice and inequities.
"The city of Portland is not under siege, except for this federal invasion that showed up as of July 1," Hardesty said during the discussion. "They have aggressively abused our community members every single night."
Hours earlier, the president of the Portland Police Association, Daryl Turner, demanded an investigation into Hardesty's recent comments during interviews and press conferences, arguing they "had the potential, if not the effect, of promoting violence against the police."
In a letter sent to City Hall, Turner said Hardesty has made inaccurate comments regarding bureau policy and data collection, the city commission that reviews police use of force, the union itself and whether Portland Police Bureau officers have set fires or intentionally provoked incidents.
Turner says the statements violated Hardesty's oath of office, which requires her to act "faithfully, honestly and ethically."
The commissioner did not directly respond to the allegations during the meeting, other than to say she had been attacked by the union for her proposal to replace the Independent Police Review with a more muscular board. That idea, set for a vote at City Hall on Wednesday, has in turn drawn pushback from City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero.
Hardesty also referenced her appointment to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown's new policing task force, saying law enforcement training and accreditation in the state are not up to par.
"There's one psychologist who lives in Lake Oswego who pretty much decides who gets to be law enforcement in Oregon, and who does not," Hardesty said. "And just saying Lake Oswego should be enough to get the demographic profile of that community."
Blumenauer — who called for the immediate resignation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's acting secretary, Chad Wolf, on July 24 — said federal officers need to be restricted from patrolling blocks away from the downtown federal courthouse.
"Donald Trump came in and deliberately poured gasoline on the fire," said Blumenauer, saying federal police could be rolled out to Seattle, Chicago, Austin and Kansas City as well. "They have a plan to try to stir up the population. Having photo-ops for Donald Trump. Footage for his reelection campaign. I think it's doomed to fail, but it is clearly what is motivating him."
Rep. Pressley, one of four lawmakers elected in 2018 now known as The Squad, drew parallels between the Civil Rights era begun in the 1940s and the Black Lives Matter movement of today.
"Who is being called today antifa was, 50 years ago, being called a communist," Pressley said. "Police brutality is not new. We find ourselves confronted by old fights but a new moment."
She added: "The only thing that COVID didn't stop was racism."
Follow me on Twitter
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.