US official demanding police spending cuts dials 911 in dispute with Lyft driver

David Millward
·2 min read
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty speaking at a protest in July - Mason Trinca /Getty Images North America 
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty speaking at a protest in July - Mason Trinca /Getty Images North America

A city commissioner who is pushing to cut $15 million from the local police department budget in Portland, Oregon summoned officers to intervene in a dispute with a Lyft driver.

The row, in a city which saw violent protests over the summer, started when commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asked the driver, Richmond Frost, to roll the car windows up because she felt cold.

Mr Frost declined to do so, because he was complying with company guidelines which recommended windows be kept open to minimise the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

He then drove to a filling station, cancelled the ride and asked Ms Hardesty to leave his car and find another driver.

Fearing for her safety as a woman being told to wait in the dark, Ms Hardesty refused and the stand-off saw both call the police asking them to intervene.

Recordings of the two calls were released by the police.

"Well, I'm not getting out of the car, in the dark, at a filling station, not happening. All because I asked him to put the window up. I'm not leaving,'' she told the 911 operator. 

"I am not going to allow him to leave me on the side of the road. I paid for a ride and he says he cancelled it, so I'm just going to sit here until he sends me another ride."

Mr Frost told the police he had taken Ms Hardesty to the filling station so she could call another ride.

Police told her that the car was Mr Frost's property and he was acting legally.

Ms Hardesty did secure another ride and explained her actions in an interview with the Portland Tribune.

"I don't call 911 lightly, but I certainly am not gonna do anything that would put my personal safety at risk," she said.

"It's a lot harder when you are Black or brown in America to make that decision ... But I ultimately had very limited options."

Lyft defended the driver. "Safety is our top priority," the California-based ride share company said in a statement. "We take these matters very seriously. We encourage everyone using Lyft to be respectful of others. This helps maintain a safe and inclusive community."