“Racial bullying is not a game.” Hackers shout insults, portray lynching during Ypsilanti Twp. Zoom meeting
YPSILANTI TWP., MI – Officials in Ypsilanti Township met with residents and county law enforcement officials for nearly an hour during a Neighborhood Public Watch meeting via Zoom.
Towards the end, however, hackers derailed the meeting, hurling racial slurs and recreating a lynching with a black doll, trustee Monica Ross Williams said.
The explosion occurred around 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, during a routine online update on crime in the area between township officials, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office and residents of the New West Willow Neighborhood Association.
It started with someone walking into the Zoom meeting and making a “derogatory comment” before getting fired, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. After that, several screens appeared, including one with a person who “repeatedly said intimidating racial words, including the vile … ‘N’ word,” Williams said in a statement.
“Then a face appeared,” she said. “Male, Caucasian, mid-twenties to late twenties. He was wearing a beige hat, glasses. A dark blonde beard and a beige jacket. He was there for about 10 seconds, and I just thought it was a mistake (at first) … then the next thing that popped up on his screen was this photo … a black African American hanging from a noose.
After the Zoom “bombardment”, Jackson immediately closed the meeting and spoke with Ross Williams and Ypsilanti Township supervisor Brenda Stumbo, both of whom requested an investigation from the sheriff’s office.
While some people appeared on screens, many other black screens made it look more like a hack than several people suddenly joining the Zoom meeting, Jackson said.
“It looked more like a bots than 10 individuals,” he said. “Just in time and at the speed he was coming and going.”
The Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Division is investigating, Jackson said. Anyone with a link from the YTown.org Community Meetings page could have joined the meeting, he said, as it was intended for public discussion with residents.
“We really want to see where some of these security vulnerabilities are,” Jackson said. “We also want to look at which laws, if any, have been broken and then investigate them. “
The meeting was not taped, so the Internet Crimes Division is trying to retrieve screenshots of the incident, if possible, Jackson said.
Regardless of the criminal nature of the incident, racial bullying is not tolerated in Ypsilanti Township, said Ross Williams.
“Racial bullying is not a game,” she said. “As a community, we are much more than that experience, and that behavior or mindset just doesn’t belong here. “
“It was horrible and totally shocking that someone would do such a shameful act at our (neighborhood watch) meeting or anywhere,” Stumbo wrote on social media. “Our sheriff is going to get to the bottom of this; It is not finished.”
The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office combats racism and bigotry through its investigative arm, Jackson said, but also through community engagement and education on the issues.
The incident came a week after City Council said it had “no faith” in Clerk Karen Lovejoy Roe in a 5-2 vote. She and trustee Heather Jarrell Roe voted against.
Lovejoy Roe’s colleagues alleged last month that the clerk had ‘come to an agreement’ with Jarrell Roe, his stepdaughter, to keep the clerk job in the family. Lovejoy Roe has been involved in Ypsilanti Township politics in various roles since 1988. Lovejoy Roe has not responded to the allegations.
The board of directors of the canton of Ypsilanti does not trust the clerk
The racist incident and the “no confidence” vote added to a controversial period in township politics, said Ross Williams.
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