portland riots antifa protests peaceful
© Associated Press
Portland police were bedeviled by nightly violent antifa protests.
This week brought news that Portland City Commissioner (as councilmembers are known) Jo Ann Hardesty called the cops over an argument with a Lyft driver days before the city council was scheduled to vote on her proposal to slash millions from the police budget.

The hypocrisy is glaring, but the bigger lesson is about the damage an activist political class can do to cities all over America if they follow in Portland's foolish footsteps.

Hardesty has been a vocal advocate of Black Lives Matter and defunding the ­police. During a ride home, she allegedly belittled and berated her driver over a partially open window, a COVID-19 recommendation from the ride-sharing service itself. After the driver had enough of the abuse and canceled the ride, Hardesty refused to get out and called 911.

Jo Ann Hardesty
© OPB
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty
Portland politics have become the subject of national scrutiny by both the media and President Trump following more than 120 days of riots this year. While much attention has ­focused on the city's feckless mayor, Ted Wheeler, others on the council have equally enabled a rapid descent into disorder.

Since Hardesty was elected to the council in 2018, her staunch hostility to police has earned her the approval of Black Lives Matter and ­antifa activists in Portland. Ordinary Portlanders have paid the price for that approval.

Days after her abuse of emergency services, the council took up Hardesy's proposal to slash $18 million from the police budget. Already in June, she had spearheaded a successful effort to cut $15 million. Her newest proposal narrowly failed, however. Dan Ryan, the commissioner who was the swing vote, had his home vandalized that night by a mob of antifa militants.

Portlanders have suffered immensely this year from the grandstanding of left-wing politicians who run the city. Mayor Wheeler oversaw six months of anti-police riots that have turned downtown into an empty shell of itself. When the federal government sent in reinforcements in July to protect a federal courthouse under siege, the city council passed a resolution banning Portland Police from communicating with federal agencies.

Hardesty's initial police-defunding package has had deadly consequences. As part of the cuts, police units that investigate gun ­violence, work in schools and patrol the transit system were disbanded. The result? In just the first month, shootings increased by almost 200 percent compared to the previous year. In the months since, homicides and shootings have continued to soar.

Hardesty also gives cover to riots and rioters with baseless conspiracy theories that white supremacists are behind the city's violence.

"When we allow white nationalists and white supremacists to infiltrate our peaceful protest," she said, "and then create the kind of chaos and damage in our community, we must make that stop." Anyone who has covered the Portland riots, as I have, knows that they are the work of hard-left activists, many of whom are now known to federal authorities — not white supremacists.

In July, she even demanded to be made ­police commissioner and claimed that cops were starting fires to blame protesters. "I ­believe Portland Police is lying about the damage — or starting the fires themselves — so that they have justification for attacking community members," she said. Hardesty was forced to walk back her comments following a request by police chief Chuck Lovell that she produce evidence.

And last month — five months into the near-daily riots — Hardesty flat-out denied that riots have even been occurring. "I won't buy into that narrative," she said during a news conference.

Portlanders sent a message on Election Day: They are beginning to sour on the city's far-left "governing: clique. Sarah Iannarone, the "antifa candidate," lost to ­incumbent Wheeler despite polling ahead of him, and far-left Commissioner Chloe Eudaly lost her re-election bid.

Meanwhile, though, the police department continues to lose officers to resignations and early retirements, and antifa is still rioting. Hardesty isn't up for re-election until 2022, and she has vowed to continue her efforts to defund police. The hard left, once in power, doesn't give up: Let that be a warning to other cities.