SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KRON) – Some boards are starting to take action after public meetings across the Bay Area got bombarded with hateful comments made virtually. Santa Rosa city schools hosted their first meeting without any online comments on Wednesday.
Racist, antisemitic and homophobic comments took over the Santa Rosa city schools district’s last meeting just two weeks ago, all over Zoom. The board decided to take swift action and immediately eliminated virtual comments.
“I was shocked,” said Gabriel Albavera, a Santa Rosa school district official. “I was hurt, I was taken aback. Granted, it was online so I kind of took it with a grain of salt to a degree.”
Santa Rosa City Schools Board of Education believes a barrage of hateful virtual comments attempted to distract board members at their Sept. 13 meeting.
“It’s easy to make those comments when you’re behind a screen as opposed to being in person,” Albavera said.
Albavera was at the meeting. He says he’s been a part of the district for decades, both as an educator and as a parent.
He says he’s never experienced organized hate like this. He took to the podium Wednesday to thank the board for ending online comments.
“I thought they showed courage. I thought they showed an ability to take a stance. I’m extremely, extremely proud of our school board,” he said.
Similar anonymous, online hateful comments have happened at meetings across the Bay Area. In June, antisemitic comments were made during a Walnut Creek city council meeting.
More recently, the comments have continued at meetings in Sonoma, Marin, South San Francisco, and Livermore. On Tuesday night, hateful commenters called into the San Francisco city supervisors’ meeting, prompting the board president Aaron Peskin to say enough is enough.
“I fought to have unlimited remote public comment,” he said. “I will be introducing a change to the board rules. This will be done. Ain’t gonna happen in these chambers, in this city. It is over.”
In Santa Rosa, the district says they don’t plan to bring back online comments for the foreseeable future.