In an extraordinary insurrection at Portland City Hall, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty this morning issued Mayor Ted Wheeler an ultimatum: Restrain the Portland Police Bureau from using force against protesters or hand oversight of the cops to her.
"I demand action right now," she wrote in an open letter. "Mayor Wheeler, if you can't control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau."
Hardesty's demand comes after a night in which Portland police worked in tandem with federal officers in violently dispersing demonstrators from around the downtown courthouses.
"We know that Portland police are collaborating with this federal occupying force," Hardesty wrote. "You are putting our community in danger. You are putting my staff in danger."
Mayor @tedwheeler, I've had enough. If you can't control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau. Full Statement below. pic.twitter.com/Xq4dkV2Tdr— Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty (@JoAnnPDX) July 18, 2020
Her open letter to Wheeler comes amid national furor over President Donald Trump sending a task force of federal law enforcement to crack down on Portland protesters. Over 16 days, Homeland Security police, U.S. Border Patrol agents and deputy U.S. marshals have swept Portlanders into unmarked rental vans, shot a protester in the head with a munition, and beat two street medics with nightsticks.
The federal officers arrived without city approval. Wheeler went on cable news last night to demand Trump remove them.
But Hardesty, the first Black woman elected to the Portland City Council and the architect of cuts to the police budget this year, said Wheeler was making a false distinction between federal police and his own city force.
Her criticism is notable as it comes after a period of close cooperation between Hardesty and the mayor, particularly on the recently completed 2020-21 city budget, which included the elimination of teams within the Police Bureau that Wheeler previously supported.
"We need you to stop denying the violence being perpetrated by our own police force," she wrote, "and make it clear and unambiguous: Portland police are directed from the top to never collaborate with [Trump's] goon squad, to take off their riot gear, and to stop contributing to the violence that was occurring before the feds arrived and still continues night after night."
Wheeler's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.