The agenda for Thursday evening's Finance Committee meeting. Image via

‘Zoom bomber’ disrupts Concord FinCom meeting with antisemitic outburst

March 15, 2024

By Celeste Katz Marston —

A ‘Zoom bomber’ spewed antisemitic vitriol during a Thursday evening Finance Committee meeting, spurring the Town Manager to reach out publicly to staffers and viewers who witnessed the disturbance. 

Town Manager Kerry Lafleur said in an emailed statement Friday evening that she extended her “deep apologies to all who were witness to these vulgar and disturbing actions, and especially to the members of our Finance Committee, and those in attendance.”

Lafleur said she and other staff members present for the hateful outburst “recognize how upsetting it was to those who saw and heard it, particularly to members of our Jewish community.”

Without specifics about what happened at the hybrid FinCom meeting, she said the “subject matter was antisemitic in content and deeply offensive.”

FinCom Chair Parashar Patel later specified the disruptor had shared a screen with a swastika image.

Antisemitic incidents have risen in the U.S. in recent years, notably since the October 7, 2023 attack by Hamas on Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Jewish bigotry.

“Since October 7th, ADL has recorded 3,291 total incidents, including 1,347 harassment, 554 vandalism, 56 assault and 1,307 rallies that featured antisemitic, anti-Zionist, or pro-terror content,” the group said on its website.

So-called “Zoom bombing” — in which viewers interrupt virtual events like government meetings with racist or xenophobic remarks — has created an additional platform for dissemination of hate.

“In 2021, in the throes of the Covid pandemic, “Antisemites adopted a new tactic for spewing their hate when the COVID-19 pandemic closed synagogues and Jewish schools and community centers: hijacking video conferences,” the Associated Press reported

Massachusetts municipalities haven’t been immune: In December, Winthrop officials launched an investigation after an online meeting bomber “shouted antisemitic slurs, displayed a swastika and appeared to give a Nazi salute during a Zoom-based Town Council meeting.”

The Winthrop meeting had included a discussion about the display of the Israeli flag on town property, WCVB reported. 

Of the Concord incident, Lafleur went on to say “hate speech of any kind is antithetical to our values, and while our board and committee meetings are open and accessible to the public, hate speech has no place in these meetings, and will not be tolerated.”   

To head off further problems, “we will continue to work in collaboration with our town counsel, technology team, and communication manager, to update guidance to those scheduling and facilitating Zoom meetings on best practices for mitigating these incidences,” she wrote. 

“Additional guidance and training will be provided for managing Zoom meetings.”

Thursday’s meeting focused on a FinCom consideration of warrant articles for 2024 Town Meeting.