A person interrupted a video conference meeting of a racial equity task force in Fairfield, Connecticut, with racist slurs, including some directed at Black members of the group, police said Friday.
They’re trying to identify the person who joined the Thursday evening meeting of the city’s Racial Equity and Justice Task Force shared their screen to show images of enslaved people in addition to making racist remarks.
It is being investigated as a potential hate crime, Fairfield Police Chief Robert Kalamaras said. He said he plans to consult with federal and state law enforcement agencies during the investigation.
“There is no place for this type of racist behavior and language in our community and we will do everything we can to identify the person who committed this disgusting act and hold them responsible,” Kalamaras said. “The members of this local task force are working to make our community a better and safer place for everyone, and it’s abhorrent to see their meeting disrupted in such a despicable way.”
The leaders of the task force said the person was somehow able to take control of the meeting, including the mute and sharing functions, for a time.
Task force co-chair Gina Ludlow, who is Black, said she and other members confronted the person, telling him he was not going to be successful in terrorizing the group or stopping their work.
“I told him the mistake he made was showing those images and thinking I would feel anything but proud of who I am,” she said. “Those images remind me that I am descended from people who endured and survived. And If they could survive that, I certainly can survive this call.”
The task force was formed last year by the town — which is predominantly white — to identify any racial inequalities and injustices in local government and recommend ways to address them. The meetings, which are held over Zoom, are open to the public.
Ludlow said the will discuss how to better protect the Zoom controls at future meetings.
She noted that this happened the same week that Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of killing George Floyd, calling it a tough week for everyone. This incident, like that one, she said shined a light on the continuing problem of racism.
“These things have been happening my whole entire life,” she said. “They happened to my parents. They happened to my grandparents. If you exist in this country in a body that looks like mine, this happens. The difference is, this was on video. It was recorded. It was public. It makes it a lot harder to turn a blind eye and say racism is not a thing.”