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Commentary & Opinion By Donna Westfall – March 5, 2024

General public comments happen early in the evening of the Crescent City, City Council meetings. Anyone can say anything during the three minutes they are allowed. But the distaste was palatable Monday night, March 4th when several people called in using the ZOOM feature. Five men and one woman called in with some pretty disgusting opinions on Blacks, Jews and “White is Right” rhetoric. All sounded rather young, perhaps in their 20’s.

The question was asked of the City Attorney, Martha Rice if Hate Speech was allowed. The short answer is YES.

Hate speech is protected by the First Amendment. Mayor Blake Inscore handled it well in that as soon as their three minutes were up he shut off their public comment. It was apparent by all in the audience and all council members on the dais that those comments would not further world peace, but rather disturb and disrupt the meeting and give you that icky feeling as though you’ve been immersed in shit and want to throw up.

When I did a search to find out if any of these callers were local residents; Jim Conley, Gabe Stutman, Chad Bastwell, Molly Cogner or Rex Yuen nothing came up. None of them identified themselves as local residents.

Under Molly Cogner’s name this came up: “City Council Death Squads… ¬†group of extremely online white supremacists zoombombing city council meetings across the country.”

Thankfully, zoom callers and local residents, Robert Derego and Sunny Valero brought normalcy back to the public comment period.

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