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Starting today, if you want to praise, appeal or harangue elected officials on Sonoma County's board of supervisors, you'll need to do it in person.

Calling in via Zoom is no longer an option to offer local government a piece of your mind, and It's not directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic, when public meetings of all kinds adapted to virtual participation. 

In what appeared to be a coordinated onslaught, caller after caller made antisemitic and racist remarks until they were cut off during the board's regular Tuesday meeting on Sept. 12, unloading bizarre, racist and anti-Semitic diatribes.

KRCB News is not airing tape of the comments because they are so offensive.

As a result, the county administrator's office announced a new policy, eliminating the option to call-in via the web app Zoom as a venue for public comment. Live public comments will remain welcome, but only from those physically in the gallery.

Officials attempted to interfere with disruptions, by reducing the time per speaker, eventually to just thirty seconds. But the calls kept coming any time the public was invited to speak, whether on specific subjects, or generally.

"We are not going to abide or allow this type of behavior, this type of speech in our meetings and particularly using our Zoom channels to broadcast this anywhere in the world, frankly," said Chris Coursey, chair of the county's board of supervisors, "We have rules and we go by those rules and the people who are members of the public at our meeting need to go by those rules as well. These are not acceptable comments to make if they involve racism, antisemitism, or any other kind of hate speech."

While not what usually happens at county public meetings, disruptions like those last week are becoming more frequent. A similar blizzard of racist and antisemitic calls were received by the Santa Rosa City Schools board of trustees the following day, and there are several news reports of similar incidents around the region in recent weeks.

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