String of antisemitic statements flood Walnut Creek council meetings during virtual public comment

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, June 24, 2023
String of antisemitic public comments flood Walnut Creek city council
The Walnut Creek City Council is scrambling to make changes after callers have been making antisemitic statements during recent meetings.

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KGO) -- The Walnut Creek City Council is scrambling to make changes after callers have been making antisemitic statements during recent meetings.

ABC7 News spoke to one of the council members and also learned that this isn't just happening in Walnut Creek.

"I want to point out Jews are responsible for all the negative **** in this world," said an anonymous public commenter during Tuesday's council meeting.

For the second time in a row, people phoned into public comment during a Walnut Creek city council meeting spewing antisemitism.

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"You really can't do a lot about that. You can give a warning, and you can cut off for things like vulgarity without warning, but there's a lot of latitude with freedom of speech," said Councilmember Kevin Wilk.

Wilk is one of the council members that has been specifically mentioned by one of the callers.

He says many of them call right in a row and will often argue if they're interrupted.

"(They argue) that their rights are being taken advantage of, they're not being able to exercise their freedom of speech, and then they're threatening to take legal action," Wilk said.

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The incidents seem to be part of a growing trend.

Similar events have happened at a Board of Supervisors meeting in Sonoma County, as well as a city council meeting in Sacramento.

Many of the callers are from out of state and phone in using fake names, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

They say over the past several years, antisemitism reports have exploded both in California and around the country.

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"Those include everything from vandalism, harassment, to assault and murder," said Teresa Drenick of the Anti-Defamation League.

In order to combat the problem, Wilk says Walnut Creek is considering several possible solutions.

"How much do we want to allow these kinds of open mics on a remote level? Do we want to go back to pre-COVID days where people are just in-person?" Wilk said.

He says after Tuesday's meeting, the council unanimously condemned the callers' actions, saying they don't represent the values of Walnut Creek.

"We're a very open and welcoming community. We unanimously oppose hate speech or any kind of discrimination," Wilk said.

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