PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for an independent review of a report that falsely accused Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty of committing a Wednesday hit-and-run that damaged a car.
These allegations first surfaced Thursday morning by the Coalition to Save Portland, a pro-law enforcement group that has historically condemned Hardesty for being critical of police.
The Coalition said it obtained a police report that contained the allegations involving Hardesty. In it, a motorist claimed Hardesty may have been involved in a traffic accident Wednesday evening. This police report has not been made public.
Hardesty denied these allegations, saying that she had been at home during the time of the accident. She added that the accusations were likely part of “a smear campaign” against her from those who disagree with her. Portland Police eventually cleared Hardesty as a suspect Thursday night.
“What happened to Commissioner Hardesty is wrong and unacceptable,” 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.”
Wheeler reached out to Hardesty Thursday night and is working with the city attoreny, Police Chief Charles Lovell and Hardesty to create a thorough, independent review of the facts surrounding the incident.
“We need to meet our toughest critics’ every test with a comprehensive, detailed and independent review,” Wheeler said. “I deeply regret what Commissioner Hardesty experienced and I’m determined to find out what happened and to prevent it from happening again.”
Gabe Johnson, the co-founder of the Coalition to Save Portland called Wheeler’s claims baseless and cynical.
“For either Hardesty or Wheeler to call this racist indicates that they are trying to bully our organization into silence,” he said. “As a Black man, I cannot in good conscience let this go.”