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Ayesha Bell Hardaway Will Return As Deputy Police Monitor

Ayesha Bell Hardaway, an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and director of the criminal clinic in the Milton A. Kramer Law Clinic, has been part of the Cleveland police consent decree monitoring team since the agreement was put in place in 2015 and a deputy monitor since 2019. [CWRU]
ayesha bell hardaway

Updated: 4:43 p.m., Monday, July 19, 2021

Ayesha Bell Hardaway is returning to her role on the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team, five weeks after her forced resignation and 11 days after the police monitor, Hassan Aden, made the offer in response to public backlash.

“At times throughout the process, the work has been frustrating and, as many now know, even hostile,” Hardaway said in a Monday morning statement, referring to personal opposition she felt from city of Cleveland officials since being promoted to deputy monitor in 2019. “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.”

Hardaway resigned June 14 in response to Aden’s attempt to move her from an oversight role into one solely devoted to community engagement.

The backlash was immediate and widespread.

The Cleveland chapters of the NAACP and Black Lives Matter, along with the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, called for Aden’s removal as monitor. The acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio; Hardaway’s employer, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Community Police Commission all  called for Hardaway’s reinstatement

On July 8,  Aden announced he had offered her the job back.

“The credible voices of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Black Lives Matter and the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP connected with one of my core beliefs – we cannot accomplish what we are all working toward, a reformed, effective, just and Constitutional Cleveland Division of Police, without the community,” Aden wrote in statement. “Often, in many cities, the community voice is not heard or considered, this is not the case here, I heard you and acted upon that message.”

Shortly after that offer was made, the federal judge overseeing the consent decree, Solomon Oliver, said Aden will remain in his job and had the support of the city and U.S. Department of Justice.

The Cleveland chapter of the NAACP and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association said Hardaway’s return doesn’t change the groups’ views on Aden.

“At no point during making our demands and sending out our letters did we request for Professor Bell Hardaway to be reinstated,” said Brandon Brown, second vice president with the bar association, adding that the groups support Hardaway’s return. “We didn’t want that to be a reason why Monitor Aden should stay in this position. Those are two completely separate issues.”

The groups are seeking a meeting with Oliver and the city to voice continued concerns about Aden.

NAACP Cleveland President Danielle Sydnor said they will be watching closely as Hardaway returns to her job.

“Because nothing essentially has changed for her,” Sydnor said. “She goes back to the same boss. To the same scenario that she was dealing with before. And we can only hope that she feels empowered to continue to use her voice if she feels that she’s squeezed again like she was before.”

Hardaway said she will resume working with the monitoring team immediately.

“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,” Hardaway said. “Please know that our community is better and stronger because of your efforts.”

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer focused on criminal justice issues at Ideastream Public Media.