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Portland City Commissioner Who Campaigned to Defund Police Called 911 on Lyft Driver

A police officer watches demonstrators in Portland, Ore., September 26, 2020. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

Portland’s city commissioner, who campaigned to defund the police, called 911 last week on a Lyft driver who refused to close his window.

Jo Ann Hardesty, who serves as Portland’s city commissioner and has been a prominent voice advocating for defunding the police department in the wake of calls for police reform, has claimed that most 911 calls don’t involve a real emergency, the Oregonian reported.

As recently as last week, Hardesty expressed support for slashing the police department budget by another $18 million, a proposal that was voted down by the Portland City Council.

The confrontation over the Lyft ride began with confusion between Hardesty and the Lyft driver about the pickup point, about which Hardesty expressed her frustration once she entered the vehicle. Shortly afterwards, she demanded that the driver roll up his windows, two of which were cracked to allow circulation as recommend by Lyft’s new safety rules for the coronavirus pandemic. The driver explained this to Hardesty and rolled the windows up slightly, at which she became “ballistic,” according to the driver, and ask that the windows be closed completely.

“So I made a decision, it would be in the best interest for both of us to cancel the ride,” the Lyft driver, Richmond Frost, said.

He pulled off the highway and attempted to drop Hardesty off at a brightly-lit Chevron off an exit. Hardesty, however, refused to exit his car, arguing that she did not want to be left at a gas station alone as a woman at night and in the cold.

The driver threatened to call 911, after which Hardesty called 911 herself. Police informed her that a crime had not been committed. The driver then called 911 himself to file a complaint. He said he was unaware Hardesty was the city commissioner until after the incident.

“It is totally inappropriate to expect a woman to get out of a vehicle in the dead of night because any angry person demands it,” Hardesty wrote in a complaint to Lyft.

“She was not a pleasant person,” the driver said. “That has nothing to do with her political position as a Portland council person. I’m out here doing my job. She was very disrespectful to me, made me uncomfortable. I don’t feel like I have to sit in a car for anyone to have to argue unrelentingly and be rude and abusive, telling me what I have to do in my own vehicle.”

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