People anonymously interrupted a community meeting on Zoom, taking aim at racist language against Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando.
Jawando, a leader in criminal justice reform, was discussing police accountability and transparency when it happened.
“I think it’s partly because I was just used to it,” he said. “You know, it’s not a new thing, unfortunately, and I was just like I let it stop and I’d start talking again.”
The meeting was a council candidates’ forum hosted by Progressive Legacy, a group of county residents who promote progressive policies and candidates. The group was eventually able to remove the online switches, but not before one of them used a racial slur dozens of times in the chat.
Jawando said he was heartened by the support he received and was happy that his 3-year-old had just left the room.
“If we want this goal that I’ve talked about, this multi-racial, cross-generational community where we all have a chance to thrive, we have to speak out against this kind of hatred and division, because we can’t achieve this goal if we allow it, ” he said.
Montgomery County Council issued a statement condemning the comments.
At a Thursday briefing, County Executive Marc Elrich called it embarrassing and disgusting.
“The people who are carrying out these attacks should put their name to it, because if they are so proud of what they do or so proud of what they think, acknowledge it,” he said.
The reunion continued and many noted that it happened during Black History Month.
“The lesson here for me, and I hope for others, is that we have to call this out and never allow it to be acceptable in public or in private, and try to move forward together,” Jawando said.
The group that sponsored the forum apologized to Jawando and those present at the meeting. They said this has never happened before and they are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.