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Ayesha Bell Hardaway returns to Cleveland Police Monitoring Team following 'forced' resignation

Ayesha Bell Hardaway.jpg
Posted at 1:29 PM, Jul 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-19 13:30:27-04

CLEVELAND — Ayesha Bell Hardaway, the member of the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team who felt forced to resign last month, will return to her role on that team. Lewis Katz, the co-chair of the Cleveland Community Police Commission, confirmed Hardaway's return on Monday.

"We are pleased to confirm that Professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway will return to the Monitor Team as Deputy Director and that her efforts will be focused upon assuring compliance by the Cleveland Police Division with the requirements of the Consent Decree," Katz said.

Hardaway, who is a Case Western Reserve University professor, issued the following statement Monday:

"There is a strong commitment among many who live and work in Cleveland to do what we can to make our city vibrant and safe. Indeed, Clevelanders routinely make real personal and professional sacrifices to better our communities. Many community leaders, organizations, institutions and individuals have stood in the gap over the last five weeks to make it clear that our community deserves a Consent Decree process that they can trust and that is accessible to them. Please know that our community is better and stronger because of your efforts. My decision in 2015 to serve on the Independent Monitoring Team was driven by that same commitment. At times throughout the process, the work has been frustrating and, as many now know, even hostile. Yet, through it all, the opportunity to make meaningful recommendations and assessments that could improve the provision of police services compelled me to use my education, skills, and voice to do my part. Now that I have been presented with the same opportunity - without undue constraints and limitations - I have decided that it is in our community’s best interest for me to resume my work as Deputy Monitor on the Independent Monitoring Team. My undaunted commitment to assessing the implementation of constitutional policing in the City of Cleveland remains as focused as when I initially began the work."

Hardaway removed herself from the monitoring team after the Department of Justice and City of Cleveland questioned her objectivity following remarks she made on a radio show in April in which she discussed Derek Chauvin and George Floyd.

Hardaway said in her resignation letter that she left due to attacks on her reputation and the shrinking role on the team. "Unsupported assertions that seek to malign my professional reputation is not something that I am willing to passively endure. Any acquiescence on my part to limit my engagement on the Monitoring Team to community issues that do not involve assessing compliance would give these baseless attacks on my professional objectivity unmerited credence," Hardaway wrote in June.

She didn't mention her role on the team, Cleveland or the city's consent decree while on the program.

After Hardaway resigned, the backlash against the DOJ and Cleveland was immediate. CWRU issued a statement that said it was "deeply disturbed" that she felt forced to resign and called the situation disappointing.

Community groups rallied behind Hardaway, and some such as the Cleveland Branch of the NAACP and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, called for the removal of Cleveland Police Monitor Hassan Aden.

Just days after her resignation, the NAACP sent a letter to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget Brennan to voice their frustration over the situation.

The president of the NAACP Cleveland branch, Danielle Sydnor, called the Department of Justice's failure to step in following her resignation “unconscionable.”

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