Police Probe Possible Hate Crime During School Board Meeting

ENUMCLAW, Wash. (AP) — Police in the greater Seattle area are investigating a possible hate crime after a school board meeting was interrupted by people who played a recording that used the N-word as the superintendent, who is Black, started speaking.

The Enumclaw School District was holding its regular school board meeting Nov. 22 when police say two unidentified Zoom attendees started repeatedly using the racial slur, local media news outlets reported.

The Enumclaw School District said one of the individuals also showed a photo of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis.

Enumclaw Police Department Commander Mike Graddon said Wednesday in a post on the department’s NextDoor page that the case is being investigated as an intentional hate crime that could also include law violations related to disturbing a school meeting and disorderly conduct.

The investigation may require search warrants to capture data to identify the unique addresses of the devices used to disturb the meeting — which could take time, Graddon wrote.

“Our investigators will exhaust all potential leads to serve our entire community with equity,” he wrote. “We are asking for the public’s understanding that these types of investigations take time and diligence.”

The incident prompted Dr. Shaun Carey, the schools superintendent, to post an open letter on Nov. 24, titled “Hate has no home here.”

“Without going into much detail, our monthly board meeting was interrupted with spontaneous hate speech that left most of those in attendance shocked and appalled,” he wrote. “The words and images used were aimed at degrading people of color. Regardless of whether or not the two individuals who carried out this hateful act were random ‘zoombombers’ or members of our community, the actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”