UPDATE: Portland Police said in a press release that Jo Ann Hardesty has been “ruled out” as a suspect in the hit-and-run incident—but says the case remains under investigation.
Portland city councilwoman and outspoken Black Lives Matter activist Jo Ann Hardesty allegedly fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident on Wednesday.
Sources not authorized to speak on record tell The Post Millennial that on March 3, Hardesty rear-ended another driver in southeast Portland and then left the scene. The victim, Evelyn Ellis, a 56-year-old teacher in the Portland Public Schools district, allegedly recognized the driver who hit her as the city councilwoman. Ellis reported the hit and run incident to Portland Police, who took a report. She allegedly saw the driver using a phone before being hit.
Ellis declined to comment over the phone.
"There is an ongoing criminal investigation underway so the Mayor's office cannot comment," Tim Becker, spokesperson for Mayor Wheeler's office, told TPM in an e-mail.
The Portland Police would not confirm if Hardesty is being investigated as the suspect in the hit-and-run.
"The Portland Police is aware of interest in a hit and run that allegedly occurred on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at about 4:48 pm, near the intersection of Southeast 148th Avenue and East Burnside Street," said Lt. Greg Pashley in an e-mail. "There is no suspect information being released at this time. The Portland Police will release specific information about this investigation when appropriate."
Hardesty was repeatedly reached for comment, which she did not respond to. However, her spokesman, Matt McNally, sent an email to the Oregonian denying any wrongdoing.
"She denies the accusation that she drove her vehicle in the last 24 hours, that she was involved in any vehicle accident and says she has not been contacted by the Portland Police Bureau regarding any such incident," McNally said.
Since becoming a city commissioner in 2019, Hardesty has been widely celebrated for her anti-police views. But she has also been embroiled in controversies. During the beginning of the BLM-Antifa riots in May 2020, Hardesty spread a baseless conspiracy theory in a press conference that the violence was being committed by white nationalists. Less than two months later, she told Marie Claire magazine that police were behind a criminal conspiracy to set property on fire at protests.
"I believe Portland Police [Bureau] is lying about the damage—or starting the fires themselves—so that they have justification for attacking community members," she said at the time. Hardesty later retracted her accusation after the police chief asked for evidence.
Also in the summer of 2020, Hardesty led a successful effort to abolish the Portland Police's Gun Violence Reduction Team. Since then, shootings and homicides have spiked in the city.
In November 2020, it was revealed that Hardesty had called police on her Lyft driver after he wouldn't let her close the window because of the company's COVID-19 policies. This was following a night of gambling at a casino in nearby Ridgefield, Wash. Only two weeks prior, Hardesty had spearheaded an effort to further cut $18 million from the Portland Police budget, citing racial justice reasons.
Hardesty's office announced that she will do a virtual news conference at 12:30 pm PT today.
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