Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Virginia City Panning Meeting Interrupted by Antisemitic Callers

Monday’s Charlottesville City Council meeting was marred by explicit racism and antisemitism when white supremacists joined public comment via Zoom.

“You can’t cut me off. It’s called the First Amendment,” said the first speaker of the night after using a racial slur.

“Actually, it is protected by the First Amendment, unfortunately,” Mayor Lloyd Snook said.

For more than a minute, the speaker used racist slurs and parroted an antisemitic conspiracy theory, drawing anger from the members of the public attending the meeting who demanded council cut the speaker off.

Snook then looked to city attorney Jacob Stroman.

“Mr. City Attorney, are we allowed to cut this off?” Snook asked.

“Yes sir,” Stroman answered.

The speaker was then muted, but not before exclaiming, “Heil Hitler. White power.”

Explaining why the council was within its rights to cut off the speaker, Stroman said to council that “the gross insult” to community members was unacceptable, “even under the broadest interpretation of the First Amendment.”

The hours following were without incident until the final minutes of the meeting, when multiple people used Zoom to repeat antisemitic and racist conspiracies and slurs.

Stroman attempted to give one of the speakers a chance to continue his comment if he could “avoid the references to hate speech and incitement.”

The speaker could not. He was then cut off.

Another speaker followed.

“This is going to be the same thing,” Council Member Brian Pinkston said after the speaker’s long-winded introduction to his remarks.

Pinkston was right.

The next couple of speakers were no different, and Snook ultimately determined enough was enough.

“We’ve had five in a row like that. I think it’s time to declare the meeting over,” he said. No one on council objected.

It is certainly not the first time people have used Zoom to broadcast obscenities and conspiracies into Charlottesville City Council meetings.

Council Member Michael Payne told The Daily Progress that during the height of the pandemic, some people would use the written comments section on Zoom to make similar statements.

“I’ve never seen a flood of virtual verbal comments like that, though,” Payne said, referencing Monday’s calls.

Pinkston told The Daily Progress he had never seen “anything of that scale or intensity” during a council meeting.

Source: https://tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup/