Sonoma County Supervisors’ Meeting Derailed by Hate Speech

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has changed its public comment policy after online bigots derailed a recent meeting with antisemitic and racist screeds.

The chaotic meeting took place Tuesday, September 12. The hate speech came in via Zoom calls that appear to have been orchestrated. 

“I just want to say f*** n*****s and f**** Jews,” one caller said. 

Another accused Jews of being the masterminds behind the Atlantic slave trade. 

Board Chairman Chris Coursey interjected to make clear there would be no tolerance for racism and hate speech. But the calls kept coming in, preventing supervisors from accomplishing much at the meeting.

After the meeting was over, supervisors informed the public that they would halt virtual public comments, restricting them to in-person delivery. 

“We are making this change because of the hateful, hurtful verbal attacks from a few bad actors on Zoom at our last meeting,” Coursey said in a statement. “I and my board colleagues are committed to free speech and open public dialogue, but that does not include racist, anti-semitic and personal attacks that only spread harm. We stand against such behavior, and will not allow our public meetings to be hijacked with the clear intent to disseminate hateful, racist or blatantly offensive speech.”  

One day after the incident, a Santa Rosa City Schools meeting was flooded by similar comments over Zoom, possibly organized by the same group of racists and antisemites. The school district is now considering changes to its public comment policy as well.