PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner lashed out at City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty after she said she believes PPB officers started fires during protests in order to justify attacking.
In an interview with Marie Claire that was published Wednesday, Hardesty said she has “no doubt in my mind” that Portland police are “lying about the damage—or starting the fires themselves—so that they have justification for attacking community members.”
PPB Chief Chuck Lovell told Marie Claire in an email response that Hardesty’s statement “strains credulity. … This allegation is completely false.”
Turner, who has been outspoken in his condemnation of the protesters and his frustration with city leaders, released a fiery statement Wednesday afternoon.
“With statements like this, it has become completely clear that Commissioner Hardesty is part of the problem in Portland,” Turner said.
“If Commissioner Hardesty has evidence of her outlandish accusation, she should immediately produce it. 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.”
Turner said he has invited elected officials to stand at the front during the protests and no one, including Hardesty, has accepted the invite.
“Politicians bent on power, perpetuating misinformation and untruths, are just as guilty of using their privilege to hijack this movement as the rioters who are committing violent acts, burning, and looting,” Turner said. “Both actions are causing destruction and chaos at a time when our communities are pleading for leadership and meaningful change.”
Hardesty at City Council meeting: Turner lies
Earlier Wednesday during the Portland City Council meeting, Hardesty said Turner “continues to lie to the public on a daily basis about the lack of cooperation of Portland Police personnel.”
“It just makes me crazy,” she said, “when I see people who were sworn to protect and serve continuing to lie to the public.”
Hardesty also said PPB is ultimately responsible for the federal officers being deployed to Portland.
“Let me be clear. The opening came for 45 (Trump) to send in this militia squad because of the overaggressive actions of Portland police,” she said. “We cannot put the blame totally on this federal secret police force. Tthe blame should rest entirely on Portland Police Bureau and their lack of de-escalation skills, their lack of ability to engage communities where they are and their lack of desire to protect Portlanders who are under fire every single night.”
And she added she was “appalled” at the PPB reiterated her desired to “manage the police bureau so we have a better police bureau tomorrow.”
She later issued an apology for her comments during the City Council meeting, but not specifically for the statements in the Marie Claire article.
“Today I let my emotions get the most of me during council and the comment I made to the press. 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 acknowledged “that as a public servant I need to be careful making statements out of misinformation” and hopes PPB will also take note.
“We all have bad days but most of them don’t happen publicly. I have always said we can disagree without being disagreeable, but today I did not meet that standard, and I’m sorry.”
Hardesty is scheduled to hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.