Hardesty sees conspiracy to fund cops
By Allan Classen
City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty unloaded a volatile police conspiracy theory on a small audience of local residents May 24.
Hardesty claimed that Portland police officers are not attempting to arrest the vandals regularly rampaging through the city because the rioting spurs public demand for increased police funding.
“I just find it fascinating that 30 kids have been able to wreak havoc over a six- to eight-month period and [the police] just can’t seem to be able to identify them,” Hardesty said at a town hall meeting sponsored by Oregon House District 33 Rep. Maxine Dexter.
“I don’t believe they want to identify them because, honestly, when the community is scared, the community demands more police, and when they demand more police, they get more resources.”
Hardesty had to apologize last July for a similar accusation that the police were lighting fires during peaceful protests to justify inhumane treatment, but not before making national news.
Her recent allegations go deeper, suggesting that the anarchist marches ending in broken store windows and graffiti are tolerated, if not encouraged, by police to hold city leaders hostage to their bureau’s budget battles.
Hardesty’s comments were part of a 350-word monologue as a guest on Dexter’s forum.
“As far as the continuous vandalism all over the city of Portland,” Hardesty began, “I continue to ask this question: If there was a group of 20 to 30 Black kids running around town, busting out windows and doing graffiti all over the place, do you really think they would have identified them and prosecuted?
“The fact that we know these are 20 to 30 white suburban kids that think it’s fun to come down and destroy property, then blame it on a movement that they aren’t a part of and have nothing to do with is ludicrous.
“The police only have one job and that’s to stop crime and so I just find it fascinating that 30 kids have been able to wreak havoc over a six- to eight-month period of time, and they just can’t seem to be able to identify them. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe they want to identify them because honestly when the community is scared, the community demands more police, and when they demand more police, they get more resources.
“I continue to hear ‘We just don’t have enough officers,’ and I’m like, ‘Well, you have 600 officers and yet you tell me you only have 200 that are available for patrol at any given time. Do the math. Why would that be? What are the other guys doing?’
“So I don’t buy the premise that they don’t have enough officers. What I do believe is that the way they deploy them actually doesn’t serve a public service purpose, which is why doing away with specialty units, doing away with the school resource officers, the transit police and the gun violence reduction team provided 44 officers that then could be on patrol. But you’ve never heard that from the police, because they’re just like, ‘They cut our budget. Now we can’t do anything.’
“And that’s not the reality. But if we go through the process I laid out earlier, I’m just not willing to invest money in a broken system. We have to know what we want to buy before we invest more dollars.”
“I appreciate your perspective on this,” Dexter responded.
There were no comments from other participants.
Policing was not the only topic Hardesty addressed. She talked about gun violence, homelessness and the failure to direct available funds to get people off the streets. But her comments began and ended with criticisms of law enforcement.
“There are hundreds of years of overpolicing of our communities that have to be acknowledged if we are ever to move forward.”
Hardesty called police handling of last year’s protests “outrageous” and bemoaned the failure to change police culture.
After the Town Hall, one attender, Val Aitchisson, told the NW Examiner that she was shocked by Hardesty’s statements reflecting a “long-standing hostility to law enforcement” rather than “rational” leadership.