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Zoom-bombers inundate digital justice conference with racist slurs

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A virtual discussion of transformative justice and abolition criminology ended abruptly on Friday in an effort to stop a Zoom bombing. (Photo: KUTV File)

A virtual discussion of transformative justice and abolition criminology ended abruptly on Friday in an effort to stop a Zoom bombing.

The conference, co-hosted by the University of Utah Dream Center and Salt Lake Community College office of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, was nearing its end when "someone logged on and began cussing through their audio," Chris "Xris" Macias, the Dream Center director, told 2News in an email.

About 57 people were participating in the conference at the time, Macias said.

The cursing was followed by a spamming of the open chat feature. Macias writes that "the racial slurs continued there."

"Comments varied, but most were generally racist and disruptive," Macias wrote.

Disruptors also inundated the meeting with images that Macias said depicted violence, terrorism, and racist imagery.

Macias tried to kick the "disruptive participants" off the meeting, but wasn't able. He told 2News the threats were generic but made participants in the conference feel unsafe.

"Slurs included 'Black lives don't matter' 'All lives matter' only worsened from there," Macias stated.

Ultimately, Macias decided the only way to regain control was to just end the meeting altogether.

"Organizers believe this was a coordinated effort, perhaps by white supremacists or other affiliated groups," Macias wrote.

Reports were filed with both University of Utah police and the Utah Department of Public Safety. A list of meeting participants, which included the emails of the disruptors, was shared with police, along with a recording of the event, Macias stated.

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