Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Still Wants to Oversee the Police Bureau. Mayor Wheeler Isn’t Speaking to Her.

Hardesty reiterates her apology for “the stupid words I said yesterday.”

Protesters march through downtown Portland on July 22. (Wesley Lapointe)

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty met remotely with reporters today to discuss Portland's ongoing protests and the allegations she levied July 22—and then walked back—that Portland police officers set some of the fires that have been a regular part of protests over the past nearly two months.

Hardesty repeatedly apologized for "the stupid words I said yesterday."

She added: "When I'm wrong, I'll say I am wrong."

Related: City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Blames Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland Police Bureau for Federal Occupation

She nonetheless continued to express a strong desire for Mayor Ted Wheeler to hand oversight of the Portland Police Bureau to her, despite her false allegations against members of the bureau. (Wheeler has said he intends to keep the bureau.)

"My statement yesterday should not undo 30 years of work on trying to reform the police," Hardesty said. "It's a statement I regret making."

Hardesty said she got carried away by emotions surrounding the protests, including local and federal law enforcement's use of tear gas and other aggressive tactics. She said she called Chief Chuck Lovell afterward to follow up on her remarks but had not yet called Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner, who blasted her accusations against his members.

She also acknowledged that Wheeler—her closest ally on the Portland City Council—has been unwilling to speak to her since July 18, when she went public with a demand that he rein in PPB officers or give her the bureau.

Hardesty said she's confident her relationship with Wheeler will recover.

"The mayor and I will be talking," she said. "He can't stay mad at me forever. He's a decent man."

Hardesty said she will still press for a culture change within the Portland Police Bureau. She expressed concern that officers are being allowed to cover their name tags with handwritten personnel numbers during protests and said she'd shared that concern with Lovell. "I said to the chief, 'This doesn't make sense,'" Hardesty recalled. She agrees with critics who say the policy makes it unreasonably difficult to hold officers accountable.

Related: Portland Police Officers Are Hiding Their Names. The Only Way to Find Out Who They Are: Tell the City Their Names.

Hardesty reiterated a desire for federal officers sent to Portland by President Donald Trump—the "goon squad"—to leave immediately, and for Portland officers to stop showing up every night clad in riot gear.

"Earlier in the protests, they were smiling and conversing with people through the fence," Hardesty said. "What we know is that when they show up in riot gear, it escalates tensions."

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