Racist trolls crash St. Petersburg’s virtual city council meeting

Pinellas County

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The city council meeting for St. Petersburg was crashed by racists Thursday shocking elected leaders and those listening in to the meeting.

One councilwoman may be handling this better than most and staying positive. In a regular city council meeting, you would physically see a person in front of a microphone, but in a world of digital meetings, it’s easier for people to hide.

“The racism has always been here. It’s just gotten more blatant,” said Deborah Figgs-Sanders, the St. Pete city councilwoman for District 5.

She is speaking out to 8 On Your Side about the moment she says, at least 3 people popped up in a virtual city council meeting and started making racist remarks.

“I could not see any faces. I could not tell who it was. The voices almost sounded like computer generated almost, so I really don’t know. I couldn’t tell,” said Figgs-Sanders.

The moderator did his best to mute the people hiding behind a computer screen but not before those in the meeting heard profanities, racist outbursts, and even threats of life.

“I was actually told that there were threats. That they basically said, ‘we know where the n’s live, kill…you know…yeah, it got really ugly,” said Figgs-Sanders.

Mayor Rick Kriseman denounced the racists on social media calling their comments “Hateful” and “Repulsive.” He said they even called for him to be killed.

Figgs-Sanders says she’s already blocked the hate. She’s staying positive; focusing on the racial changes that are coming.

“The racism being present, yes, but we’re bigger than that. We will not be moved. We’re going to make sure that we get it done. And we’re going to get it done together cause we’re in this together,”said Figgs-Sanders.

St. Pete police say there is a difference between freedom of speech and making threats. They tell 8 On Your Side they are looking into what happened Thursday.

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