‘Zoom-bombers’ disrupt Sacramento candidates’ forum with racist, sexist posts

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A virtual community forum for two Sacramento City Council candidates was disrupted Wednesday night in a “Zoom bombing” incident when attendees made racist, sexist and obscene comments and posted sexually explicit images.

The virtual event was organized by the Natomas Community Assn. and was meant to provide a public forum for Karina Talamantes and Michael Lynch, two candidates for the council’s 3rd district.

For memory :

5:44 p.m. June 6, 2022This article incorrectly states that the Natomas Community Assn. hosted the candidates’ forum. The event was organized by the D3 Community Coalition.

Jaycob Bytel, a spokesperson for Lynch’s campaign, told The Times that organizers ran into technical issues that forced them to make Lynch and Talamantes the forum’s hosts on Zoom.

Once candidates were named hosts, attendees were able to message them directly on the video conferencing platform, Bytel said.

Lynch, who is black, received two comments from different accounts at one point during his speaking period, his campaign spokesperson said. One comment read “killing black people”. Another was a racial slur.

During the speaking portion of Talamantes, she received sexist comments and a participant posted sexually explicit content on the Zoom conference, Bytel said.

“As candidates leading positive campaigns to represent diverse communities on City Council, we were extremely disappointed by the racist, sexist, violent and obscene messages and images that were thrown at us during last night’s community forum,” the candidates said in a joint statement. statement Thursday. “In a free and civilized society, there is no place for the kind of dehumanizing, racist and sexist behavior to which we were subjected last night.”

The statement went on to say that the two candidates are united against hate, bigotry, racism and sexism, and that although they are opponents in the campaign, their differences lie in their political approaches.

“Officials may have felt empowered to hurl slurs, death threats and obscene imagery at us from behind the security of their keyboards, but we are not afraid and will continue our work on behalf of our communities,” they said. “We condemn last night’s actions in the strongest terms and reaffirm our commitment to making Sacramento a place where all can be safe and prosper.”

Sachiko Konatsu, president of the Natomas Community Assn., also made a statement.

“We will also coordinate with the Sacramento Police Department to ensure this incident is documented and will not happen again,” Konatsu said. “No one should ever have to endure such offensive behavior, in public or in a virtual setting.”

Talamantes told The Times that running for city council was her second campaign and that she faced similar sexist and misogynistic behavior when she first ran for public office, a successful 2018 run for the Sacramento County School Board. , where she is president.

On Easter that year, a man called her while she was with her family, she said. The man was masturbating to her voice.

“Yesterday while I was speaking I asked a member of the community to expose some genitals,” Talamantes said. ” It was hard. Nevertheless, this type of behavior – specifically sexist behavior – is not new.

She hopes the city will provide community associations with funding to pay for Zoom licenses, a move that could help prevent similar incidents in the future, she said.

“Natomas is a beautiful and diverse neighborhood in Sacramento,” Talamantes said. “Our postcode has been labeled as one of the most diverse postcodes in the entire country…I think the actions of a few do not reflect the whole community. This is unacceptable, but this is not reflected.

She said the event hosts apologized and she wanted to congratulate the community leaders.

Lynch said that as a black man, he’s gotten used to dealing with racism, and comments like those on Wednesday night won’t deter him from serving the public.

“I run to solve problems,” he said. “We will continue to focus on ending homelessness and investing in young people, especially young people who have been left behind by municipal government.”

Talamantes is a first-generation Latina whose parents immigrated to California from Mexico, she says campaign website.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in community and regional development from UC Davis and worked with the White House Educational Excellence Initiative at the US Department of Education under President Obama, according to her website. After returning to Sacramento, Talamantes worked for college access programs where she helped low-income and first-generation students pursue higher education.

In addition to serving as chair of the county board of education, Talamantes works as chief of staff to Sacramento Vice Mayor Angelique Ashby, according to her website.

Lynch was raised by a single father and graduated from Valley High School in South Sacramento in 2006, according to his campaign website.

He graduated from Humboldt State University — recently renamed Cal Poly Humboldt — with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, according to his LinkedIn page. He also holds a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Cal State Sacramento.

In 2013, Lynch co-founded the Sacramento nonprofit Improve Your Tomorrow, which works to increase the number of young men of color attending colleges and universities. He currently serves as the organization’s Chief Executive Officer.

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