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Anti-Police Portland Commissioner Ordered To Pay Over $16,000 After No-Show At Court

Portland, OR – Anti-police Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has been court-ordered to shell out over $16,000 in unpaid debts and fees after she failed to show up for scheduled court hearings last week involving her outstanding credit card accounts.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Judith Matarazzo issued the default orders against Hardesty at the request of Bank of America, which filed the two lawsuits in November of 2021, KPTV reported.

Matarazzo approved a $4,900 lien against the city commissioner on March 21, followed by a $11,700 penalty in the second case later that same week.

Hardesty didn’t bother to show up for either hearing, nor did any legal representative appear on her behalf, KPTV reported.

She later told KOIN she plans to pay her debts and claimed she had already spoken with the bank’s lawyers.

According to City of Portland budgetary records, Hardesty has been raking in a six-figure salary for the past three years.

She’s slated to make another $127,712 this year alone, KPTV reported.

Hardesty is also trying to cash in on a $5 million lawsuit she previously filed against the Portland Police Association (PPA), former PPA President Brian Hunzeker, the City of Portland, and another Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officer for their alleged roles in leaking a report that mistakenly identified the commissioner as the suspect in a hit-and-run collision, Willamette Week reported.

The commissioner is seeking $3 million in damages from the PPA, as well as $1 million from Hunzeker, $1 million from PPB Officer Kerri Ottoman, and a single dollar from the City of Portland.

Hardesty was tied to the March 3, 2021 hit-and-run after Evelyn Ellis called 911 and reported that her vehicle had been rear-ended earlier in the night by a woman she recognized as Hardesty, Willamette Week reported.

Evelyn Ellis told police she was “starstruck” because she believed the person who hit her vehicle was the well-known city commissioner.

The lawsuit filed by Hardesty claimed that officers showed up at her home at approximately 1 a.m. on March 4 and “banged loudly on the door, waking her neighbors,” according to the lawsuit.

“This conduct by PPB officers was a discriminatory, retaliatory and unwarranted overreaction,” the complaint alleged.

PPB investigators determined less than 24 hours later that the hit-and-run driver was a woman from Vancouver, Washington and that Hardesty had nothing to do with the crash, Willamette Week reported.

By that time, the information provided by Evelyn Ellis had already been leaked and several news outlets that had already reported on Hardesty’s alleged involvement.

Stephen Brischetto and Matthew Ellis, the attorneys representing Hardesty, alleged in a statement late last year that the commissioner was targeted by police, Willamette Week reported.

“Commissioner Hardesty’s advocacy for true police accountability and reform makes her Public Enemy No. 1 for many at the PPB and PPA,” Brischetto and Matthew Ellis declared. “Yet, despite attempts to punish her for her advocacy and force her out of office in retribution for her tireless and effective advocacy, Commissioner Hardesty will not be silenced.”

The lawsuit alleged that police targeted Hardesty because she is black and claimed the defendants were trying to run Hardesty out of City Hall, KPTV reported.

“The leaks of information were made because of race and in retaliation for plaintiff’s years of opposing race discrimination by the PPB and members of the PPA,” the complaint read. “The leaks of information were made with actual malice because they were done with either knowledge that the statements were false or with reckless disregard of whether the statements were false or not.”

Hunzeker resigned from his position as the PPA president in March of 2021, Willamette Week reported.

PPB Chief Charles Lovell initially recommended the 21-year PPB veteran be suspended for 12 weeks without pay over the ordeal, but Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler overrode that decision.

The veteran officer was fired on Feb. 28.

Hardesty has demanded a declaration that the city violated her right “to be free from race-based discrimination and retaliation” in addition to the $1 in monetary damages, Willamette Week reported.

The city commissioner has a long track record of anti-police outbursts, to include accusing law enforcement of starting fires during the months of rioting that took place in the city during the summer of 2020.

Hardesty claimed Portland police were actually the ones who set the fires, and accused them of blaming the blazes on rioters in order to give them an excuse to attack citizens.

“I am old enough to remember that during the civil rights movement, the police had provocateurs…intentionally added to the group to do disruptive stuff,” Hardesty told Marie Claire in a 2020 interview. “I have no doubt in my mind, I believe with all my heart, that that is what Portland police are doing.”

“I believe Portland Police [Bureau] is lying about the damage—or starting the fires themselves—so that they have justification for attacking community members,” the commissioner added.

Hardesty further claimed that federal officers had been “attacking” citizens for no reason during the riots, and complained that the PPB did nothing to help shield people from them.

“I still have to question why was Portland police not protecting Portlanders when these federal goons came in and started attacking us rather than joining the federal goons who were attacking peaceful protesters,” Hardesty told KATU at the time.

She later issued a statement admitting she was not perpetuating factual information with regards to accusing police of arson.

Hardesty justified her behavior by explaining that she was just “angry, frustrated and horrified” by the events that had been transpiring in Portland, KATU reported.

“Today I let my emotions get the most of me during council and the comment I made to the press,” she lamented.

Hardesty then claimed that her comments were simply fueled by the terror she feels over concerns “that someone will be killed because of an officers’ inability to de-escalate or walk away from a situation,” KATU reported.

“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,” she wrote. “My worst fear, [is] that those that seek to discredit protests are helping initiate it.”

The commissioner said that historically, “people have been sent to infiltrate” mass protests and movements “to create incidents that justify enhanced police actions,” KATU reported.

Hardesty apologized for “using unfounded claims and misinformation,” then immediately called on the PPB to follow her lead.

“I hope this is something Portland Police Bureau will also remember as they put out nightly statements regarding the protests, their conduct, and their involvement with federal officers, because we can all agree lives are on the line,” she wrote.

Hardesty also took issue with a private contractor’s Thin Blue Line flag emblem during another incident less than a year ago, Pamplin Media reported.

The contractor had the pro-police emblem on the side of his company vehicle as he was working on a city road project.

Hardesty, who oversees the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), was outraged and demanded he remove it.

“My office and PBOT are aware that the ‘thin blue line’ flag is being displayed by a City contractor doing work for PBOT,” the anti-police commissioner confirmed in a statement.

“The thin blue line imagery is viewed by many in our community as a symbol of white supremacy that has been prominently displayed by those that oppose the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement and we understand this is causing distress in the community,” Hardesty wrote. “You can count me as one of the many Portlanders that finds this imagery deeply offensive.”

She said the PBOT contacted the contractor and asked him “not to display the symbol while performing work for the City,” but the company owner refused to comply.

“Unfortunately, they declined, and we are limited in our ability to address this issue under our existing contracts and policies,” Hardesty said.

She said the situation was clear evidence that there is more work to be done in order for Portland “to live up to last year’s anti-racism resolution, including holding City contractors to the same standards we hold City government.”

Hardesty vowed to work with the Portland City Attorney and the PBOT to find a way to control the speech of private companies when those companies are working on a city-funded contract.

“This incident also highlights the lack of diversity amongst City contractors,” Hardesty alleged, adding that she has been trying to “fix” that issue since before she took office.

Despite her contempt for law enforcement and her steadfast support of the “defund the police” movement, Hardesty was quick to call 911 in 2020 after getting into an argument with her Lyft driver, The Oregonian reported at the time.

The driver canceled her ride and ordered her to get out of his vehicle after she allegedly went “ballistic” on him, but Hardesty refused to exit the car and called 911 to have police intercede.

“This is another example of being black in America and being put in a position where I have to be the one to look out for my personal safety,” Hardesty alleged during a city council meeting in November of 2020, according to FOX News. “I didn’t expect the Lyft driver to do it, certainly didn’t expect the police to do it. It was my responsibility to make sure I got home safe.”

She then blamed her behavior on “white supremacists.”

“When you’re living in a city where white supremacists are proudly riding around in their big trucks with their flags, and you’re a black person, and somebody wants to put [you] on the side of the road at night — not gonna happen,” Hardesty declared.

Hardesty has led the effort to defund the PPB, cutting millions from the police budget over the past several years and bringing multiple PPB specialty units to an abrupt end.

She has also pushed her fellow city commissioners to eliminate dozens of vacant sworn police positions.

Hardesty, who is also the Portland Fire and Rescue commissioner, banned all law enforcement agencies from using any of its 31 stations to prepare for tactical operations in July of 2020, Willamette Week reported at the time.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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