Members of the City and Borough of Juneau City Assembly during a Zoom meeting on Jan. 10, seconds before a caller disrupted the meeting in a Zoom bombing episode. (Screenshot)

Members of the City and Borough of Juneau City Assembly during a Zoom meeting on Jan. 10, seconds before a caller disrupted the meeting in a Zoom bombing episode. (Screenshot)

Officials to consider ‘Zoom bombing’ ordinance after disruptions

There’s been two separate incidents this week.

Two separate Zoom bombing episodes this week have City and Borough of Juneau officials ready to revisit an ordinance introduced — but not passed — last year to make the act a crime.

During Monday evening’s City Assembly meeting, a caller interrupted the public comment section and made inappropriate and suggestive comments which singled out Assembly member Carole Triem.

According to Triem, a similar episode happened earlier in the day at the Systemic Racism Review Committee. In that incident, the caller shared pornography.

“It’s really aggressive and creepy,” Triem said in a Wednesday morning interview with the Empire. “It’s super disruptive. It just makes everyone feel bad.”

It’s not the first time Triem has endured inappropriate comments from a Zoom caller.

A similar incident occurred in August 2020. After that incident, city staff members developed a process to shut the caller down quickly, and the strategy worked Monday night.

[City extends COVID mitigation measures through April]

During the evening meeting, City Clerk Beth McEwen and CBJ municipal attorney Robert Palmer acted quickly to mute the caller and asked for an immediate recess.

When the meeting resumed a few minutes later, Mayor Beth Weldon addressed the issue and expressed disappointment.

“Monday’s meeting was way better,” Triem said. But, she said that even with a quick end, the call’s effects linger.

“You can shut it down really quickly, but the impact is the same,” she said, adding that she’d prefer to see a focus on prevention.

Legislative options

Last February, the Human Resources Committee members asked Palmer to draft an ordinance making it a crime to Zoom bomb meetings in the city and borough.

In a Tuesday email, Palmer said CBJ has not yet adopted that ordinance but plans to revisit it.

“We are investigating and need Zoom to cooperate,” Palmer said in an email to the Empire on Tuesday. “Regardless, I will be giving the Assembly Human Resources Committee some legislative options on Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.”

[City reports 2 buildings collapse as continuing rain stresses infrastructure]

When the ordinance was introduced last year, Palmer explained that it must be crafted in a way that protects first amendment freedoms of speech but prevents threats, obscenities, and disruptive contact.

“Zoom says that if it’s a local crime, they will look into it. They suggested that if the CBJ wants to stop this, it needs to be added to the criminal code. Options are harassment or disorderly conduct,” Palmer said last spring.

What is Zoom Bombing?

According to a description shared with city officials last year, Zoom bombing is the term for joining a meeting anonymously and showing inappropriate images or making comments that are lewd, threatening, obscene, or disruptive and out of context.

• Contact reporter Dana Zigmund at dana.zigmund@juneauempire.com or 907-308-4891.

More in News

This picture shows recent editions of the Juneau Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
Pathfinder to Point Louisa, Auke Recreation Area on Jan. 3. (Courtesy Photo / Kenneth Gill, gillfoto).
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Reader-submitted photos of Southeast Alaska.

In this satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption at the Pacific nation of Tonga Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022. An undersea volcano erupted in spectacular fashion near the Pacific nation of Tonga on Saturday, sending large waves crashing across the shore and people rushing to higher ground. (Japan Meteorology Agency)
Update: Tsunami advisory canceled for Southeast Alaska

It applies to Southeast from the BC border to Cape Fairweather.

This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, yellow, emerging from the surface of cells, blue/pink, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, NIAID-RML
COVID at a Glance for Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

Numbers come from reports from the City and Borough of Juneau Emergency… Continue reading

Courtesy photo / Juneau Raptor Center 
This golden eagle was rescued by the Juneau Raptor Center over the summer after being found weak and thin.
All the birds I’ve known: Rescue center, birdwatchers look back on 2021

The Christmas bird count was way down this year.

Platypus-Con, a board and card game convention, is set for later this month in Centennial Hall. (Courtesy Photo | Unsplash)
It’s game on for Platypus-Con

After a year off, it’s back.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, Jan. 14, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read