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Ayesha Bell Hardaway Undecided On Returning 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 from 2019 until her departure in June. [CWRU]
photo of Ayesha Bell Hardaway

Updated: 11:50 a.m., Thursday, July 8, 2021

The monitor overseeing the consent decree with Cleveland police has offered Case Western Reserve University professor Ayesha Bell Hardaway her job back as deputy monitor.

Hardaway said Thursday morning she is still undecided on whether to return to the role.

The offer comes nearly a month after  Hardaway was forced out of the monitoring team. Local activists, the legal community, Case Western Reserve University, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and nearly all candidates running for Cleveland mayor voiced disapproval of the decision.

“I am very, very grateful to the Cleveland community for all the support they have shown,” Hardaway told Ideastream Public Media.

Groups including the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association and Black Lives Matter Cleveland also  called for Aden to be replaced shortly after Hardaway was removed.

The monitor, Hassan Aden, said in a statement, which can be read in full below, he reflected on the community response to Hardaway’s departure, leading to his reversal.

“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. “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.”

Aden also said his team is planning to hire additional Cleveland residents to work on the monitoring team. Conversations with Hardaway about returning are ongoing, he said.

Hardaway joined the monitoring team in 2015 and was made deputy monitor when  Aden took over from the original monitor, Matthew Barge, in 2019.

According to previous statements, the city and monitor’s office came to view Hardaway as biased against police, based on statements she made  during an appearance on Ideastream Public Media’s “Sound of Ideas” radio program and her tweets about the use of deadly force by police.

According to Hardaway, in June, Aden gave her the option of moving into a community engagement role or leaving the monitoring team entirely.

“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 to Aden in a letter dated June 14. “You and I both understand that removing me from the substantive compliance work of this project is, in fact, removing me from the team.”

The city has said little publicly about Hardaway’s dismissal.

According to Mayor Frank Jackson’s publicly available calendar, on June 16, two days after Hardaway left the monitor’s office, Jackson and Aden met privately for an hour-and-a-half meeting described only as a consent decree update.

The city has not responded to a request for details of what was discussed during that meeting.

According to Aden, a standing monthly one-on-one meeting with the mayor is on the schedule, but they did not meet in June or the two previous months.

 

 

Matthew Richmond is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media who focuses on criminal justice.