The ironies are plentiful.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has been pushing to defund the police at a time when officers have been overwhelmed by left-wing rioters in the Oregon city’s streets since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May.
Specifically, she wants cops pulled from 911 calls that don’t involve crimes, the Oregonian reported.
Oh, and she also oversees Portland’s emergency dispatch system, the paper said.
Got that so far?
Now get this: Hardesty actually called 911 recently over a Lyft driver who abruptly canceled her ride after he said she was “rude and abusive” toward him, the Oregonian reported.
“She was not a pleasant person,” driver Richmond Frost told the paper, adding that he didn’t even know who Hardesty was until after the ordeal had concluded. “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.”
The skinny on the short, strange trip
On Nov. 1, Hardesty ordered a pickup from a casino resort in Washington state — and things went downhill right off the bat when there was a pickup location mixup, the Oregonian said, adding that Frost said Hardesty got angry about it.
Then the driver said as he was headed out of the casino lot, Hardesty demanded he close the windows and that she wouldn’t ride with them down, the paper said.
More from the Oregonian:
The car windows on the front driver’s side and front passenger’s side were cracked open to allow for air circulation as a safeguard due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said. According to Lyft’s website, the company’s new rules for the road during the pandemic recommend keeping the car windows open.
He rolled the windows up slightly but kept them open a sliver, telling Hardesty that the windows were open for safety purposes since they couldn’t be six feet apart in the confined space of his car.
“I did say, ‘It’s for my safety and your safety.’ But that was like pouring gas on her fire,” Frost recalled to the paper. “She demanded that I close that window right now. She was kind of ballistic at that point.”
When Hardesty wouldn’t let up, the driver told the Oregonian he took an early exit off Interstate 5 south.
“So I made a decision, it would be in the best interest for both of us to cancel the ride,” Frost noted to the paper, adding that he pulled into a Chevron station.
“It’s lit up like a football field. It’s safe. It’s warm,” he told the paper. “She could order another Lyft or Uber, whatever she wants to do, and I can be done, and I can get on with my work.”
More from the Oregonian:
But Hardesty’s anger boiled over. Frost said she told him: “‘Well, no, either you’re going to take me back to the casino or you’re going to take me to my destination,'” he recalled. Hardesty, he said, told him that she’d already paid for the ride, but Frost said he had canceled the trip and no money had been exchanged.
He said he pulled close to the front door of the gas station’s convenience store, but Hardesty wouldn’t get out of his four-door black 2019 Hyundai Ioniq.
Frost asked her if he’d have to call police to have her removed and she told him to go ahead, he said.
It gets even better
So the veteran politician, who oversees Portland’s emergency dispatch system and believes cops shouldn’t be involved in 911 calls, dialed 911 from the back seat of Frost’s vehicle, the paper said.
“I’ve got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station,” Hardesty told dispatch when asked what her emergency was, according to the Oregonian, which said it obtained dispatch records through a public records request. “Well, I’m not getting out of the car, in the dark, at a filling station, not happening — all because I asked him to put the window up. I’m not leaving.”
Was there violence? No. Weapons used? No.
“He says I’ve got to get out of his car, or he would call the police, so I decided to call for him,” Hardesty added to dispatch, according to the paper.
The dispatcher told Hardesty several times the circumstance wasn’t a crime but a civil matter, the Oregonian reported, adding that the vehicle was the driver’s property.
But the Portland commissioner who wants to defund the police wanted police to respond to her, the paper said.
“I am not going to allow him to leave me at the side of the road,” she told dispatch, the Oregonian reported.
While the pair waited for cops to arrive, the paper said Frost also called police to register a complaint — and dispatch recognized his call was related to the call they had just fielded from Hardesty.
Then soon, a police car pulled behind Frost’s vehicle just as another Lyft driver arrived, the Oregonian said.
Frost gave cops his story, and then when police approached the rear passenger door, Hardesty exited and got into the other Lyft vehicle, which she ordered for her ride home, the paper said.
“Peace restored and involved parties sent their separate ways,” a 10:16 p.m. entry said on the dispatch report, the Oregonian noted.
Hardesty sent a complaint to Lyft, the paper said, which read: “I requested a ride, the driver came to the wrong pick up location. He then blamed me. I asked him to roll the window up on my side and he started to yell, ‘I can’t because the regulations require each window to be cracked (which isn’t true). He then pulls over in the dark on the side of a gas station and told me he was cancelling the ride. I had no interest in being left on the side of the road by an angry driver. He threaten [sic] to call the police. I called the police & another car. Both arrived at the same time. 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. This is a safety issue for your customer. Your driver was in no danger.”
A Lyft Safety Team member replied to Hardesty saying, “drivers are free to end a ride for any reason as long as the drop off is in a safe location. Safety is our top priority. We take these matters very seriously. We encourage everyone using Lyft to be respectful of others. This helps maintain a safe and inclusive community,” the Oregonian said.
More from the paper:
The Chevron station’s convenience store closed at 10 p.m. but the station’s night lights remain on because the pumps are available through credit card use 24 hours a day, a clerk said.
Frost, 63, who has lived in the Portland metro area for 51 years, said he got back into his car and drove off after Hardesty got out of the back seat. Once back on I-5 south, he stopped on the shoulder and called a Lyft help line to report the canceled trip.
Only when he was recounting what had occurred and reported the passenger’s full name — which he had overheard her give to police — did he recognize that Hardesty was the Portland city commissioner, he said.
“She was just another passenger,” Frost said, according to the Oregonian, adding that he’s worried that publicity about the incident will adversely affect his life. “I treat everybody the same. I try to be professional.”
Hardesty didn’t respond to messages from the Oregonian for comment — but she did speak to the Portland Tribune, saying she “proactively” called police because Frost calling police on her “would put me in danger” as a black woman.
“I don’t call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not going to do anything that would put my personal safety at risk,” she said to the Tribune, according to the New York Post. “It’s a lot harder when you are black or brown in America to make that decision.”
Hardesty added to the Tribune that it’s also dangerous “for a single woman to be traveling anywhere, especially in this very racially tense time. People recognize me everywhere … I just was not going to take that chance,” the Post said.