- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2020

A Portland, Oregon, city commissioner apologized after she claimed police were intentionally lighting fires and “creating chaos” in the city.

As the city entered its 50-plus day of protests and riots following the death of George Floyd, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty accused the Portland Police Bureau of sending provocateurs into peaceful crowds and intentionally escalating the violence.

“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,” Ms. Hardesty told Marie Claire in a profile published Wednesday. “I have no doubt in my mind, I believe with all my heart, that that is what Portland police are doing.”

“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.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell called the allegation “completely false.”

“The Commissioner’s statement that police officers would commit the crime of arson in order to precipitate their violation of people’s civil rights strains credulity,” the police chief said in a statement, KPTV reported. “I am interested in seeing what evidence she has to support her accusations. I’m disappointed that an elected official would make a statement like this without providing specific facts to support it. This allegation is completely false.”

Ms. Hardesty released a statement later Wednesday apologizing for spreading the unfounded claim.

“Using unfounded claims and misinformation is something no one in any position of power should do, and you deserve better,” she said, in part. “I appreciate the reminder that as a public servant I need to be careful making statements out of misinformation, and I take this to heart. I hope this is something Portland Police Bureau will also remember as they put out nightly statements regarding the protests, their conduct, and their involvement with federal officers, because we can all agree lives are on the line.

“We all have bad days but most of them don’t happen publicly,” she said. “I have always said we can disagree without being disagreeable, but today I did not meet that standard, and I’m sorry.”

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