Montpelier, VT- Montpelier city officials are broadening the City Council’s Zoom meeting policy to all committees after a Historic Preservation Committee meeting was disrupted by antisemitic remarks on Friday.
In a press release on the incident, officials say multiple individuals logged in to the meeting and made antisemitic statements just before the meeting was called to order.
The City’s Planning and Zoning Administrator, Meredith Crandall, was in charge of setting up the meeting. She says she quickly muted and removed everyone from the public meeting.
“It’s disturbing, they’re happening nationwide,” says Crandall. “We’re all being made aware that this could happen. I think the Zoom platform makes it easier for people to do that in a way where their actual identity is hidden. Personally, I’m not as concerned about it happening in-person, but it is something we all have to be prepared for.”
According to a spokesperson for the city, the disrupters used pseudonyms and had their cameras turned off. It’s unknown if the individuals are local to Montpelier.
This is the second time in less than two months that city proceedings were disrupted by antisemitic and racist comments, officials said. A similar ‘zoom bomb’ was made at a September 27 City Council meeting.
Now, City Manager Bill Frazier says, all committee meetings will follow the Zoom protocol established for City Council meetings. Anyone who logs via Zoom will be muted immediately and will be unmuted by the Chair when they want to make a comment.
City officials say this policy has worked for council meetings and hope it will prevent similar incidents in the future.