Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has strongly backed the Black Lives Matter movement and made motions for the city to defund the police, called 911 on November 1 after engaging in verbal abuse against her Lyft driver. Hardesty, headed home from the ilani casino resort in Southwest Washington, made unreasonable demands of the driver. When he refused, she called 911 with the intent of having the police force the driver to complete the ride to her Portland home.
Lucky for her, she had crossed state lines into Washington, so her recent attempts at defunding Portland Police (and her TEDx talk on the subject) didn’t create a shortage of responding officers when she thought she needed them.
As OregonLive reported, the ride ended in “dueling 911 calls.” The driver said Hardesty was “not a pleasant person.”
“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.”
Lyft’s terms of service and local laws back up the statement that this is the driver’s personal vehicle, and he gets to set the rules. Apparently, Hardesty was initially set off because she was not at the designated pickup location that the casino sets up for rideshare pickups to avoid confusion and traffic. The driver called her to figure out where to pick her up, drove to her location, and started the ride. This, after a 25-minute pickup time after the driver dropped off his previous passenger.
The driver said Hardesty was abusive from the moment she got in the car. He told OregonLive,
Once in his car, Hardesty was perturbed that he had trouble finding her, he said. He grabbed his phone from the bindle on his dashboard and showed her where the pin drop indicated her location, but that didn’t seem to assuage her displeasure, he said.
“I just wanted to calm her down, make her understand that I’m not a rookie. I know what I’m doing. She didn’t want to hear any of that. She just wasn’t happy with that.”
As he started to drive out of the casino’s lot, Hardesty told him that he needed to roll up the windows, that she couldn’t ride with them down.
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.
That set Hardesty off even worse. She demanded that the driver roll up the windows, COVID be damned. The driver says Hardesty went ballistic at this point.
The driver started down I-5 back toward Portland, but with Hardesty haranguing him non-stop, he decided to stop at a gas station at the next exit and end the ride there.
That’s when things escalated to dueling calls to 911.
Hardesty claimed that she had already paid for the ride. The driver says he canceled the ride when he pulled up to the front door of the well-lit gas station. Keep in mind, with the long pick-up and the difficult time finding Hardesty at the casino, the driver sacrificed over an hour of his time and a large fare just to get her out of his car.
The driver told OregonLive that Hardesty’s anger “boiled over.” He 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.’”
OregonLive obtained a recording of the 911 call and published it on YouTube:
Asked what her emergency was, she said, “Well, I’ve got a Lyft driver that decided he would just drop me off at a filling station. 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.”
She said there was no violence. No weapons were involved.
“He says I’ve got to get out of his car, or he would call the police, so I decided to call for him,” she continued.
The dispatcher told Hardesty that it was a civil matter, not a crime, noting that the car is the driver’s property.
“I am not going to allow him to leave me at the side of the road,” she continued.
The driver is overheard in the background, attempting to inform the dispatcher that they’re not at the side of a road.
“I paid for a ride. He says he cancelled it,” she continued. “So I’m going to sit here until he sends me another ride.”
The dispatcher asked Hardesty, “Do you understand only you can order another ride?”
“I’m not moving until another car comes,” Hardesty said.
The driver also called 911 at that point, stating that he drove Lyft and a passenger was refusing to get out of his car. The dispatcher sent two Ridgefield, Wash., police officers, who took statements before Hardesty got out of the first Lyft, and got into the second Lyft she had ordered while waiting for the police to arrive.
No word as of this writing whether Hardesty said “thank you” to the police officers she thought she needed before she headed back to Portland to try to defund them again.
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Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.