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Portland's police union president is calling for an investigation into comments made by a city commissioner who alleged officers may have sparked fires and lied about the damage sustained during weeks of protests and clashes between authorities and demonstrators.
In an interview with Marie Claire magazine that was published July 22, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty questioned statements by the Portland Police Bureau over the ongoing protests that have frequently turned into riots.
“I am old enough to remember that during the civil rights movement, the police had provocateurs…intentionally added to the group to do disruptive stuff,” she said. "I have no doubt in my mind, I believe with all my heart, that that is what Portland police are doing."
Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty speaks to protestors during a candlelight vigil to support Portlanders’ rights to free speech and assembly at the Multnomah County Justice Center last week. (Photo by Mason Trinca/Getty Images)
“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 continued.
Weeks of protests in the city's downtown have devolved into riots and violent clashes with some setting fires and destroying public property.
Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, called Hardesty's comments false, while accusing her of violating her oath of office.
"With statements like this, it has become completely clear that Commissioner Hardesty is part of the problem in Portland," Turner said in a statement. "Every one of the many videos we have seen confirms that small groups of rioters are starting the fires and trying to burn down buildings.
"I have invited elected officials to stand at the front lines with our officers during protests," he added. "Neither Commissioner Hardesty nor any other City Council member has accepted that invitation."
Turner emailed Mayor Ted Wheeler and commission members with quotes attributed to Hardesty and reasons why he believes they are false, KATU-TV.
Messages to Hardesty's office from Fox News were not returned.
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Hardesty and Turner engaged in a heated argument during last week's City Council meeting where she called him a liar and again claimed some police officer may be setting fires.
"Using unfounded claims and misinformation is something no one in any position of power should do, and you deserve better… As a public servant, I need to be careful making statements out of misinformation, and I take this to heart," Hardesty said afterward, according to the news outlet.
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