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Catskill online school meeting disrupted by hate speech

Aug 02, 2020 6:00 am
Sarah Trafton is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media a town hall style meeting held July 30 by Catskill Central School District Superintendent Ronel Cook to discuss a proposed reopening plan was marred by some unruly and hateful comments. More than 100 people tuned into the conversation, which was held via Zoom. Cook presented the plan and then turned the floor over to the public for comments. Leah Chan attempted to ask the superintendent a question, but was interrupted by a male voice, using the N-word. Cook immediately asked that the person be muted. Chan tried to speak again, but she was interrupted for a second time by an unidentified male, spewing more racial hatred and preventing Chan from being heard. After struggling to regain control of the meeting, according to Trafton, Cook brought the presentation and the meeting, to a close. The matter is now under investigation, Cook said the next day. “Several derogatory comments were made and local law enforcement is investigating the matter,” he said. “I thank the different agencies in advance for their due diligence regarding this matter.” The Catskill Police Department is the lead agency on the case, Lt. Ronald Frascello said, and is working with the State Police Computer Crimes Unit, the Greene County Sheriff’s Office and the Greene County District Attorney’s Office. Police are working to trace the caller and criminal charges are pending, Frascello said. The precise nature of the charges will be determined by the district attorney, he said. Cook has been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement in the Catskill community. “As a man of color, I think it’s very important,” Cook said at Catskill’s Black Lives Matter march, held June 4. “I live this every day. Many of you live this every day. It’s time. It’s time that we hold our government officials accountable," he said. Racial tensions in Catskill have surfaced significantly during the past month, after a request from the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition to allow a "Black Lives Matter" mural on Main Street was mishandled by the village board. The five-member board ultimately denied the request, despite widespread support for the proposal by business owners and residents. Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.
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