Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Tuesday, March 5 @ 11:56 a.m. / Local Government

(VIDEO) Antisemitic, Racist Hate Speech Infiltrates Crescent City Council Meeting

Speaking via Zoom, seven individuals hijacked the public comment period of the Crescent City Council meeting on Monday, spewing antisemitic and racist speech and leaving elected officials and staff at a loss for how to proceed.

The first commenter began his statement by discussing potential sewer rate increases. However his comment quickly devolved into hate speech, propting Crescent City Mayor Blake Inscore to pause his public comment and ask City Attorney Martha Rice how he should respond.

Rice urged Inscore to try to redirect the speaker's comments to a topic that’s within the city’s jurisdiction.

“Give him one chance to be re-directed and [if] he gets off topic again, his public comment is over,” Rice said.

Inscore allowed the man to finish his public comment. The speaker then brought up the Anti Defamation League, which he said was an organization "built to silence Amerians in real life and online."

He said the ADL had been sending packets and information to city councils and other government bodies on how they can censor public forums.

Another speaker mentioned the USS Liberty and urged the City Council to draft a resolution and “mount a plaque somewhere” commemorating June 8 as a day to honor the Naval research vessel that was mistakenly attacked by the Israeli Air Force in 1967. A third invoked anti feminist Phyllis Schlafly to speak about National Women’s History Month.

None of those speakers were local.

The Anti Defamation League has reported an increase in antisemitic harassment and trolling at public meetings. The ADL issued a news release reporting the increase in August 2023. In December, since that August release, the organization recorded more than 140 incidents nationwide.

According to the ADL, the antisemitic Goyim Defense League, or GDL, became more organized in September when one of their members, Harley Petero created the City Council Death Squad.

This harassment has prompted some local governments to discontinue virtual public comments, according to the ADL.

According to Crescent City Manager Eric Wier, Monday's attack wasn't the first time the city has had to deal with commenters spewing hate speech via Zoom. A few months ago, the Planning Commission weathered a similar incident, he told the Outpost on Tuesday.

Zoom has made it easier for the public to engage with the City Council, though it also makes it easier for bigots to infiltrate local meetings, Wier said. He said he would be speaking with the mayor and mayor pro tem on how the Council should respond, noting that Del Norte County discontinued allowing public comments via Zoom earlier this year.

"I wish I had some magic strategy to still have this option and not be vulnerable to what we encountered last night," Wier said. "It is really unfortunate. You want to be able to have kids and family and anybody be able to watch a City Council meeting and not have exposure to hate speech, but hate speech is protected."

On Monday, one member of the public, Robert Derego, owner of Sticky Grove, urged councilors to keep Zoom available for those wanting to tune into their meetings virtually. He said he felt that option is valuable, but the Council will likely have to take steps to make sure pranks wouldn’t happen.

“I don’t think those comments had to be allowed for those durations as soon as you realized they were forms of hate speech and disruptive and irrelevant to our community,” Derego said. “I hope we find a solution to this where locals can still participate virtually.”

Sunny Valero, former human resources manager for Crescent City, said such an attack has occurred in other communities across the United States.

“The City Council is doing an amazing job making sure our city has been inclusive to other people,” she said. “I hope everybody turns a blind ear to the ignorance that was presented tonight.”



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