A Beaverton City Council virtual meeting on October 3 was disrupted by a barrage of hate speech from what appeared to be AI-generated speaker bots. Here’s what happened.
Following in-person testimony, the council began hearing from online participants, many of whom initiated with a common phrase, “Hello, can you hear me?”
Callers Spewed Racist and Conspiratorial Remarks
Over a dozen callers spewed racist, bigoted, and conspiratorial remarks, leaving Mayor Lacey Beaty with no choice but to swiftly intervene.
It didn’t take long for the first speaker to launch into an anti-Semitic tirade, prompting Mayor Beaty to promptly shut it down.
The Slurs Were Censored
The exact slurs have been mercifully redacted from the public video of the meeting.
The subsequent callers’ comments escalated, becoming more venomous and filled with racist, homophobic, xenophobic, and misogynistic views.
A Shocking Incident
Other councilors were shocked as they grappled with the unfolding incident.
What made this incident particularly suspicious was that the callers used ordinary human names, leaving no immediate suspicion of their artificial nature.
Many Invoked First Amendment Rights
Many of them also invoked their First Amendment rights in a disconcerting attempt to legitimize their hatred.
Mayor Beaty expressed her initial sense of unease, noticing an unusually high volume of online comments.
Just Cut Them Off
She said, “And as soon as I started naming names, the first speaker out of the gate started naming members of the Jewish community and leadership, I knew instantly where the direction was going to go.
I was looking at the rest of the names trying to calculate if this was a one-off or if everyone in the Zoom line was going to be espousing similar sentiments and so as soon as it went from naming names to something atrocious, I just cut them off.”
One caller’s voice abruptly shifted to a robotic tone, accompanied by a rapid acceleration in speech.
They Had to Take Action
The presence of children and teenagers in the meeting heightened the urgency to take action, as gasps and concerned looks flooded the room.
In her dual roles as mayor and mother, Beaty faced a pivotal moment.
Young attendees, some from her own daughter’s school, looked at her with wide-eyed expectation, pleading for action.
She made a decision to protect not only the integrity of the meeting but also the emotional well-being of those present.
They Released a Statement
Despite the chaos, the Beaverton City Council has since released a statement on their Facebook page, expressing their “deepest empathy” and unwavering stance against such intolerance.
Commitment to Fostering Safe Environment
They reaffirmed their commitment to fostering safe and inclusive environments for all community members.
They Were Taking Call-ins?
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “A city council meeting taking call-ins? Should have known that wasn’t going to go well.”
Another user added, “Of course, the American-made internet and its platforms are being used by America’s foes against Americans.”
It Was Not AI
A third user commented, “It was the mayor, city council, and their friends who did it. Stop trying to blame AI.”
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