Embed from Getty Images

Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said this week she didn’t believe protesters in Portland are setting fires but that police are sending in “saboteurs” to create the strife – an unsubstantiated claim that drew immediate pushback from police and then an apology from her hours later.

Hardesty’s comments came three days after she issued a statement via Twitter, telling Mayor Ted Wheeler that if he couldn’t control the Police Bureau, he should allow her to replace him as police commissioner. Wheeler responded that he planned to continue in the position during this “period of transformation.”

Her remarks were made during a video conference “Emergency National Briefing,” sponsored by the Portland-based Western States Center, a left-leaning think tank based in Portland, OregonLive.com reports.

Hardesty, who has been the leading voice for police reform on the City Council, blamed police for creating strife on the city’s streets by sending in provocateurs.

“I want people to know that I do not believe there’s any protesters in Portland that are setting fires, that are creating crisis. I absolutely believe it’s police action, and they’re sending saboteurs and provocateurs into peaceful crowds so they justify their inhumane treatment of people who are standing up for their rights.”

She didn’t offer any information to back up her allegations.

Officer Daryl Turner, president of the Portland rank-and-file police union, quickly responded: “Really? Really? That is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”