Think Out Loud

Putting the false hit-and-run allegation against Jo Ann Hardesty in historical context

By Samantha Matsumoto (OPB)
March 18, 2021 4:27 p.m. Updated: March 18, 2021 8:31 p.m.

Broadcast: Thursday, March 18

A woman wears a yellow turtle neck beneath a plaid jacket, with a pendant necklace around her neck. She smiles slightly as she looks at the camera.

Jo Ann Hardesty outside Portland City Hall in 2019. Hardesty won election to City Council in 2018, becoming the first woman of color to serve on the governmental body.

Cheyenne Thorpe / OPB


Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was falsely implicated in a March 3 hit-and-run, despite having nothing to do with the incident. The allegation was then leaked to the media. The mayor’s office has since opened an investigation into the leak, and the president of the Portland Police Association stepped down due to his handling of the incident. Commissioner Hardesty joins us to discuss how race and racism have affected her career as an elected official. And Joseph Torres, senior director at Free Press and co-author of the book “News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media,” tells us how this one incident fits into a larger history of news media perpetuating stereotyped and inaccurate coverage of people of color.

Editor’s note: During the interview, Commissioner Hardesty incorrectly stated the percentage of African Americans that make up Portland Police arrests. Her office has clarified that 18% of arrests, as well 18% of traffic stops, by PPB are of African Americans. African Americans make up less than 6% of the city’s population.

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