Photo courtesy of Derek Hassan
A White supremacist zoom-bomber spewed racial slurs and threatened violence against Carolyn Murray, a 5th ward aldermanic candidate, at a Sunday afternoon Democratic Party of Evanston online endorsement event.
While Murray was answering questions about her campaign, the intruder unmuted themself and started voicing repeated racist and derogatory attacks against Murray, as well as the Democratic Party. The individual also used the Zoom chat section to type racial slurs in all-capital letters and make direct threats against Murray’s life and the lives of other Black people.
Over 40 people from the Evanston community gathered near Murray’s home within hours of the incident to show their support for the candidate and stand against White supremacy.
“You all came out because you heard the call to say something, to take action against racism,” Murray said. “My name is Carolyn Murray. You came against me. You came against my children. You came against my town. You came against my country, and I’m gonna tell you, ‘I ain’t scared.’”
Democratic Party of Evanston chair Eamon Kelly said the attack aligned with last week’s White supremacist riots in Washington, D.C.
“It was a racialized attack,” Kelly said. “But Carolyn is not going to be deterred, the Democratic Party is not going to be deterred, and we’re gonna cooperate fully with the police and we’re gonna find out who did it.”
The online intruder identified themself as a Donald Trump supporter, repeatedly writing “TRUMP 2024” in the chat. They also released the personal addresses of some call participants.
Evanston police chief Demitrous Cook condemned the zoom-bombing.
“I stand in solidarity against any form of racism against anybody,” Cook said. “It’s important that we all stand for people of color. It’s a very difficult time in America, and it’s time for all of us to stand up as brothers and sisters.”
Following the incident, the DPOE issued a statement that said, “No one should feel unsafe in participating in the political process, especially as a candidate for public office in Evanston.”
The DPOE then said it would improve security protocols and privacy for future online events. The Zoom call Sunday was accessible to the public through the DPOE Facebook page and website, and through individual candidates’ social media accounts.
They also promised Murray a second opportunity to participate in the endorsement interviews.
In the past, Murray had worked with her son, Justin, to reduce gun violence in Evanston. In 2012, Justin was shot and killed in Evanston. Following his death, Murray was invited to President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, and garnered national attention for her fight against gun violence.
Murray said along with her race, she suspects her affiliation with the Obamas made her the target of these attacks.
“It brings back the feelings that I had when my son was first killed, and how traumatizing it was to not feel safe in your neighborhood,” Murray said.
Along with Cook and members of the Democratic Party of Evanston, local anti-racism activists spoke out against the attack.
“We as a community have been trying our damnedest to be loud, be proactive and be forward-thinking,” Karla Thomas, an Evanston activist and a Northwestern graduate student said. “There have been eyes on Evanston, and that makes anyone of color, and particularly Black and Indigenous folks who choose to run in the community, a target.”
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