Jo Ann Hardesty is a city commissioner in Portland and one of the people who has been pushing the hardest for defunding the police. Most recently, Hardesty has been pushing for an $18 million cut to the police budget on top of a previous cut that happened this summer. Hardesty’s defunding effort failed in a 3-2 vote and she scolded her fellow city commissioners and the mayor for their lack of courage:
Before her vote, Hardesty expressed disappointment in the three members who voted no for sticking to the status quo and for declining to back her and Portlanders who had been in the streets nightly for months demanding the city rethink its approach to public safety.
“The people have spoken,” she said. “And I’m pretty sure they’re just as disappointed as I am with the lack of courage in this historic moment where, just for a second, Black lives mattered in Portland.”
It turns out that just days before that confrontation, Hardesty got into another dispute, this time with a Lyft driver who had picked her up at a casino. Hardesty became upset that the driver had left the windows cracked (wide enough for a pencil the driver said), in keeping with company recommendations regarding COVID-19. The dispute escalated until Hardesty called 911 on the driver:
The November 1 ride began when Lyft driver Richmond Frost picked up a passenger named “Jo Ann” at the casino. Frost kept the windows cracked — COVID protocols put in place by the ride share company — and Hardesty complained.
The ride went downhill from there and Frost decided to cancel the ride. He pulled off into a Chevron station at an I-5 exit ramp in Ridgefield. But Hardesty refused to get out of the car and called 911 at 9:48 p.m.
Hardesty told the 911 dispatcher he dropped her off “in the dark at a filling station. And I’m not getting out. Not happening. All because I asked him to put the window up.”
The dispatcher told her “technically it’s his property and there’s no crimes involved.” Hardesty said Frost canceled her ride “and I’m just going to sit here until he gets me another ride.”
The 911 dispatcher pointed out that only customers can order a car so Hardesty would have to do that herself.
“If it’s not a police issue then I will hang up but I’m not getting out of this car in the dark at this time of night,” Hardesty said.
“Do you understand that only you can order another ride?” the dispatcher replied.
“Well I didn’t cancel the ride, he canceled the ride,” she said.
“Which is his obligation as a human being on the face of the earth to cancel a contract like that. It’s not a crime,” the dispatcher said. Finally, he agreed to send officers out for this “emergency” but warned that they wouldn’t be able to hold the driver there because he’d done nothing illegal.
Maybe the argument between Hardesty and the driver continued. All we know for sure is that three minutes later Mr. Frost, the driver, did call 911 to say that she was refusing to leave his car. He sounded completely calm which, as you’ll see in a moment, was significant.
Hardesty later claimed she was put in danger by Frost calling the police and that’s why she called first: “I knew that having him call the police would put me in danger. And so that’s why I proactively called 911.” The idea here is that if he complained first, police were going to show up and injure her or something. That should tell you all you really need to know about Hardesty’s view of the police.
She also said, “I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not going to do anything that would put my personal safety at risk.” The woman who wants to cut police officers from the street in the midst of a spike in violent crime and nightly protests/riots that drain existing resources is very worried about her personal safety. So worried that she’ll call 911 for this non-emergency non-crime.
Hardesty said she was afraid because the gas station was closing and she didn’t want to be stranded there alone. In reality, she called 911 12 minutes before the station closed and had another ride by 10:14. If she’d just gotten out and not wasted the time of the police and the driver, she probably would have had the ride in plenty of time.
But the main point here is that someone who wants fewer officers on the streets and fewer officers responding to non-emergencies should probably have realized there was no need to call 911 here.
Finally, as soon as Hardesty got her ride, she filed a complaint with Lyft saying she’d been left “on the side of the road by an angry driver.” Listen to the driver’s 911 call below. Does he sound angry? So Hardesty not only made an unnecessary non-emergency 911 call, she also tried to get the driver in trouble with his boss, all because he wouldn’t roll up the window that was down by the width of a pencil.
The good news is that Lyft didn’t buy her story any more than the 911 dispatcher did. They sent a response noting that she had refused to leave the driver’s car after the ride was canceled. Lyft’s statement concluded, “Please know that future reports of this nature may lead to additional action being taken on your account.”