November 11, 2020 11:30 am
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portland city commissioner in favor of defunding police called 911 over lyft incident

A Portland city commissioner called 911 during a heated dispute with a Lyft driver, even though she has sought to defund law enforcement.

Jo Ann Hardesty ordered a Lyft on the night of Nov. 1, and the ride turned problematic right away, according to KOIN 6 News, which obtained audio of the 911 calls. In Hardesty’s version of events, the driver, Richmond Frost, was combative from the moment she got in the vehicle and responded angrily when she requested he close the windows, which he claimed was against Lyft’s COVID-19 protocols.

Things took a turn for the worse when Frost pulled off the highway into a gas station and ended the ride. Hardesty refused to get out of the vehicle and called the police.

She told the 911 dispatcher that 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 Hardesty, “Technically it’s his property and there’s no crimes involved.” The city commissioner explained that Frost canceled her ride, “and I’m just going to sit here until he gets me another ride.”

The back and forth with the dispatcher continued until officers were sent to the scene. Frost also called the police, minutes after Hardesty ended her call.

“I’ve got a customer that I’ve canceled the ride, and I’ve taken her off the freeway to the filling station so that she can order another ride,” he said. “She’s refusing to get out of my car.”

Hardesty later told the Portland Tribune that she called 911 because she felt unsafe.

“I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not going to do anything that would put my personal safety at risk,” she explained. “It’s a lot harder when you are Black or brown in America to make that decision … But I ultimately had very limited options.”

Hardesty has been pushing for $18 million of the police budget to be reallocated and directed into local communities. The policy proposal ultimately failed last week, resulting in angry protesters targeting Commissioner Dan Ryan, who cast the deciding vote. They showed up at his home, shattered glass, smashed a flower pot, threw things at the home, and lit flares, according to the Oregonian.

These types of incidents have not been uncommon in Portland over the last five months.

The idea of providing less funding to police departments has gained steam in 2020 following a number of deaths at the hands of police officers, while many of the victims were people of color. Portland has been one of the few cities that has continued to have protests, which have often turned violent and destructive, through the fall.

In June, the Portland City Council voted to cut at least $15 million from the police bureau. According to KGW8, activists were looking to cut $50 million from the police budget.

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