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Zoom meeting of Albany neighborhood coalition interrupted, intruders spew racism

Feb 05, 2021 3:00 pm

Robert Gavin is reporting for the Times Union the online monthly meeting of a coalition of Albany neighborhood groups was interrupted by a "very disgraceful and unfortunate" torrent of hate the evening of Wed., Feb. 3. The intrusion interrupted the Zoom meeting of the Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations, or CANA, according to Zachary Simpson, chairman of the network that was founded in 1976. “We fell victim to a ‘Zoom Bombing’ incident where our presentations for African American History Month were interrupted with extremely offensive language and content,” Simpson said in a message on Facebook and in email. Simpson said Beverly Bardequez, president of Rapp Road Historical Association, was in the middle of her presentation when multiple hackers shouted racist slurs, played music with racist elements and scrawled slurs on a white screen and a vulgar picture. Last June,  the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region's location at Madison Avenue and South Pearl Street fell victim to an attack. One or more intruders tossed rocks and a brick to smash the building's windows, picked its lock from the outside, stole items and wrote the words "I hate you" inside. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan put out a statement concerning the online attack, saying it was "unleashed by bigoted cowards." "Unfortunately this is a sad reminder that bigots and white supremacists live among us. I ask our residents to join me in condemning this heinous act." Simpson apologized to members of the two organizations and the attendees. “I have been conducting Zoom meetings for almost a year now, and never anticipated something like this occurring at a CANA meeting," he said. Simpson said that more than 70 people were in attendance. Officer Steven Smith, a spokesman for Albany police, said the department is looking into the incident. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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