A Response to Incidents That Took Place During The Public Hearing

February 10, 2021

Last night during our Zoom Public Hearing we were Zoom bombed. For those that are not familiar with ‘Zoom Bombing’, this is when people join a Zoom meeting for the purpose of creating the most shock in the least amount of time.

We had two instances of Zoom bombing during last night’s meeting. One was visible during the livestream, and one was visible only to the people in the meeting. Both instances were apologized for by members of the Board, and both offenders were removed from the meeting as quickly as possible.

One of the Zoom bombing instances, the one that was visible on the livestream, involved the “n word” showing up on a shared screen document. Knowing that the unknown offender was doing this for shock value, our reaction was to remove the offensive word from the screen, apologize for it, and carry on with the meeting. Our reaction should not be construed to mean that we are “laughing it off and moving on”. In the shock of the moment, we treated the “n word” like any other offensive word and removed it without further comment. We neglected to publicly recognize that it is more than that. It is a word that is loaded with racism and hurt. It is a word that does not belong in a public meeting, and racism does not belong anywhere in Voluntown.

The second Zoom bombing instance exposed meeting participants to sexual harassment, which is also unacceptable and not anything that the BOS condones.

We apologize for any offense that was taken in our responses to the Zoom bombings. The video of the public hearing has been removed from the YouTube channel and will be reposted when the Zoom bombing is edited out, so as not to cause more offense. It was not our intention to diminish the situations at all. We were focused on not giving undue attention to those who seek it, to remove them from the meeting, and to carry on with business. We learned a lot during our first large Zoom meeting and we will be better prepared for our next one.

Respectfully,

First Selectman Tracey Hanson

Selectman Ronald Millovitsch

Selectman Mark “Skip” Oulton