For the time being in Milpitas, public comments at public City meetings will not be submittable through Zoom.
More and more jurisdictions are steering away from the Zoom option in light of what’s called “Zoom-bombing,” a phrase for when participants crash meetings through Zoom and engage in harassment or hate speech. This has been seen in recent weeks in Sacramento, Monterey, El Cerrito, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, South San Francisco, Livermore, and elsewhere.
Said a City of Milpitas press release on the matter, “A virtual tool that allowed residents to participate, influence decisions, and hold elected officials accountable has quickly become a platform for hate and harassment.”
Mayor Carmen Montano added, “We stand firmly against any form of bigotry, racism, or prejudice. Such views have no place in Milpitas, and we are committed to fostering an environment where all our residents feel safe, valued, and included.”
The move is temporary. For now, public commenters will have to either show up at meetings in person or submit their comments in writing by email or snail mail. Written comments will not be read aloud during public meetings, but they will go to the City Council and become part of the public record.
Said Vice Mayor Evelyn Chua in the press release, “We encourage open and respectful dialogue, where differing opinions can be shared and discussed constructively. However, we draw the line at speech that seeks to divide, demean, or harm Milpitas community members.”