CLEVELAND — Editor's note: The video in the player above is from a previously published story.
Ayesha Bell-Hardaway, director of the Social Justice Law Center at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), has resigned from her role as a deputy monitor on the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team after she claims her objectivity was questioned as a member of the task force.
The Cleveland Police Monitoring team, according to its website, was formed in 2015 after a Consent Decree was agreed upon by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Cleveland Division of Police following a 2014 investigation that found Cleveland police officials had violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law while engaging in certain police practices.
In a resignation letter obtained by 3News, Bell-Hardaway says that Cleveland Police Monitoring Team Monitor, Hassan Aden, threatened to remove her in her role as a deputy monitor following an interview given with Cleveland's NPR affiliate following the verdict made in the Derrick Chauvin murder Trial.
The former deputy monitor claims in the resignation letter that Aden gave her only two options following her interview, stating that she would either need to restrict her role to only community-related matters, or remove her from the team, entirely.
Bell-Hardaway says that her responses in the NPR interview in question reflect "capsulized information about American policing that is well-supported in existing literature," rather than bias.
"My responses during the interview were made in my role as a law professor and researcher at Case Western Reserve University School of Law," Bell-Hardaway says. "I understand that my responses during the fast-paced radio show raised concern amongst some of the people that you’ve spoken to. To proactively address this articulated concern, I even suggested setting up a meeting for the expressed purpose of facilitating clarity and understanding. This offer was rebuffed," Bell-Hardaway writes.
Furthermore, the CWRU professor says that the Monitoring Team's response to her answers given in the NPR interview "reaffirms why reform and systematic change remain critically necessary," stating that the fact that that conversations on police reform being a topic of contention is "surprising."
"I recognize that it is a tall order for some to accept the reality that violence exists in American policing and that systemic change is needed in order to address the longstanding and disproportionate impact that excessive use of force by police has had on Black people," Bell-Hardaway writes. "However, the work of police reform is rooted in some of these hard truths."
"As difficult as it is to walk away from the work that means so much to me and many within the Cleveland community, the ultimatum as presented leaves me without any other option."
According to the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team's website, the task force is, "charged with overseeing implementation of the Consent Decree and helping the Court and City of Cleveland gauge whether the Decree's requirements are taking hold in practice – in the real world and across Cleveland's communities."
3News reached out to Aden and the Cleveland Police Monitoring Team for comment but did not receive a statement at the time of publication.
You can read the entire letter from Bell-Hardaway to Aden below: