The far-right Zoombombing hate speech crisis in town halls: "a deliberate tactic being employed to remove people's ability to engage democratically"

"Zoombombing" is the malicious disruption of video conference calls, particularly public meetings, by coordinated far-right groups aiming to sabotage democratic processes. As detailed in Dale Dougherty's article in The Sebastopol Times, Zoombombers hijack online forums by spewing racist vitriol — a tactic increasingly used to silence community voices.

Dale (a friend and the publisher of MAKE magazine, where I was an editor from 2005-2013), writes that in the past nine months, "Zoombombing has come back in a big way, organized by far-right groups and targeting the public comment period during open government meetings." He recounts Sebastopol Mayor Diana Rich's harrowing experience of repeatedly removing hateful, racist disruptors from city council Zooms.

"The Zoombombers presented as a coordinated group using our meeting to deliver racist, hateful, derogatory statements," Rich said. "The entire experience was unsettling and emotionally draining, but most importantly, it was disruptive."

The perpetrators are organized member of the "City Council Death Squad" (CCDS) systematically disrupting meetings with antisemitic and white supremacist rhetoric, exploiting free speech rights as weapons. As Rich says, "They are using our hard-fought right to free speech against us. It's appalling."

From Dale's article:

One might think of the CCDS like a cult or an underground activist club. Each week they go out and remotely visit City Council meetings, wait through all the things that make these meetings move at a slow pace, in anticipation of their moment to jump in. They have a prepared and practiced a script … and if they don't have time to deliver all of it, they just start throwing out slurs and profanity until they are muted. They record themselves doing it.

Later, the members of this cult or club gather back together in their online lair after someone has organized video clips from their recent Zoombombings. They launch a livestream of their Zoombombing highlights and glory over their exploits, commenting on their own superior efforts and the inadequate response of their inferiors. It was chilling to watch.

One podcaster raises the prospect that Zoombombing represents "a deliberate tactic being employed to remove people's ability to engage democratically in the city or school board or wherever they live."

Previously: Anti-Semites demand $100,000 from Sheriff Chitwood. He offers them pacifiers