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Children targeted by racist rant during Denver City Council meeting

Councilmembers said a "Zoom-bomber" went on a cowardly and racist rant while the children were addressing the council.
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Posted at 6:47 PM, May 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-15 08:13:23-04

DENVER — Two elementary-age children became the targets of a racist, hateful rant at Monday night’s Denver City Council meeting.

The students appeared before the council to ask for help getting more classroom space when an unidentified person launched a racist tirade.

Councilmembers condemned the “Zoom-bomber” behind the rant and said it was working with the city’s tech team to figure out how to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

“Last night, the Denver City Council endured a cowardly and racist 'Zoom-bomber' who interrupted our General Public Comment when two African American youth were speaking about their community needs,” City Council President Jamie Torres said in a statement. “The words were vile, as was the character of a person who would actively seek to say these words to two beautiful and courageous young girls.”

As an elected official, Denver City Councilwoman Shontel Lewis is used to getting hateful comments.

"I see it all the time on my social media accounts,” said Lewis.

She never imagined children would become a target.

The unidentified person behind Monday night’s racist rant told the children to “go back to Africa” and used several racial slurs, including the N-word, before the person’s microphone was finally muted.

“I think initially I was just shocked,” said Lewis. “But then I think my maternal instinct kicked in and I thought, oh my gosh, I need to get over to those babies.”

Young students targeted with racial slurs during Denver City Council meeting

Lewis along with council members Sarah Parady and Darrell Watson walked over to the children to console them.

The Denver City Council isn’t the only government body that’s had to deal with anonymous people disrupting their proceedings and spewing hateful language.

Council meetings in Wheat Ridge and Lakewood have also been disrupted by people going on hateful and antisemitic rants in recent months.

“Unfortunately, we all know that we live in a world that spews hate regularly, and as we make rare space in General Public Comment for residents to address this council every Monday and most recently declared our pilot to prioritize young voices on the first Monday of each month, we actively invite speakers from all walks of life,” said Torres. “We sit squarely in the space of democracy and civic participation and will continue to champion those ideals.”

Torres said the city council is working with the city’s technology team “to review logs and procedures and determine how the breach occurred, with the goal of preventing future incidents.”

Watson said he’s not sure what the council can do to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.

“I don't think there's anything we can preemptively do,” said Watson. “We allow communities, community members to come and provide public comment. We open a virtual link to make sure that the city council is accessible to folks that can't make it down to the city and county building.”

Watson said he wanted the girls to know that the city council stands with them.

“The fact that they had to face that level of racism just broke our hearts,” said Watson.

The council members said children should never be targets of hate.

“It's disgusting,” said Lewis. “It is absolutely maddening."


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