Portland Commissioner receives flood of racist messages

August 1, 2020 GMT

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Amid work to address systemic racism under a national spotlight, Portland, Oregon, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty says she has been sent a high volume of racist messages.

Hardesty, a former state legislator and the first Black woman elected to the Portland City Council, said while racists messages directed toward her aren’t uncommon, she has been shocked “at the high level of racist, white supremacist rhetoric” that she’s received in recent months, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.


“The racists have come out in full force,” she said.

She said she’s been getting letters at her home, texts as well as emails and messages on social media.

Hardesty, who was elected to the council in 2018, has been a main architect of Portland’s latest police reform plans. Many of her proposals led the City Council to approve redirecting $15 million previously budgeted for police to other city programs and initiatives in June.

The council unanimously voted Wednesday to put a ballot measure before voters in November to decide whether the city should create a new civilian-led police oversight system. It’s a proposal Hardesty’s office crafted and sponsors.

Hardesty’s office shared copies of about a dozen emails and instant messages she received in July with The Oregonian/OregonLive. All of them contained some combination of racist slurs, epithets and sexist comments.

The messages led Mayor Ted Wheeler to issue a public rebuke this week, demanding people in the community who are involved to stop.

“It is never without risk that you take on policing. I’ve been doing it for 30 years,” Hardesty said. “First they laugh at you, then they try to discredit you and then you win.”