The San Francisco Board of Supervisors may eliminate remote public comment after a Tuesday meeting was disrupted by racist and antisemitic remarks from callers.
The board currently fields both in-person and remote comments to accommodate people with difficulties attending meetings in person. But following a series of hateful remarks at Tuesday’s meeting, Board President Aaron Peskin said he will be introducing a change to the board rules.
“This will be done," Peskin said. "Ain't going to happen in these chambers in the city. It is over.”
In an interview Wednesday, Peskin said he's introducing legislation to eliminate remote public comment except for those who require accommodations under the American With Disabilities Act. The legislation will be reviewed at the Rules Committee and eventually at the full board.
Minutes earlier, one commenter, who began by speaking about public transit, suddenly pivoted to using antisemitic and racial slurs before being cut off by Angela Calvillo, clerk of the Board of Supervisors. A subsequent caller repeated an antisemitic slur; another commenter shortly thereafter cited an antisemitic conspiracy theory in reference to the city’s reparations proposal before being cut off.
Remote public comments became commonplace during the Covid pandemic, but lawmakers have raised concerns that the practice can make meetings untenably long or otherwise cause disruptions.
Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting was the latest in a string of incidents in which public commenters bombed Bay Area government meetings with hateful speech.
Earlier this month, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors eliminated remote public comment after government meetings were plagued by antisemitic, racist and anti-LGBTQ+ comments, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Likewise, a meeting of the Walnut Creek City Council in June was disrupted by antisemitic callers. Earlier this week, the Berkeley City Council this week was also reportedly bombed with antisemitic remarks.
Mike Ege contributed to this report
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