FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 15, 2020
Statement from the League of Women Voters Regarding Stockton Candidate Forum
Stockton, CA - On October 7, 2020, the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County (LWVSJC) held a virtual candidate forum for Stockton Mayoral candidates, co-sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Stockton and Faith in the Valley. Candidate forums provide community members with a direct line to their candidates offering information about where the candidates stand on the issues to help make educated voting decisions.
During the forum, an event open to the public, the proceedings were “Zoom bombed” and an, as yet unidentified individual or individuals, interrupted the event with video of an objectionable sexual nature and blatantly racist comments. The forum moderator from the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County, terminated the event in progress as quickly as possible. However, prior to terminating the event, those present were subjected to content and comments that are diametrically counter to the beliefs and values of all of the sponsoring organizations.
The League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County filed a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation immediately following termination of the forum. While not in their jurisdiction, the Stockton Police Department was also notified with a full report. The LWVSJC also contacted the campaign managers of both campaigns, offering their deepest apologies for the experience and a commitment to make changes to the forum security in the future.
“We condemn the hateful words, behavior and sentiments expressed by the intruders at our recent Candidate Forum. Actions calculated to injure, shock, humiliate, or demean are never acceptable,” said Gretchen Newby, President of the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County. “We deeply regret the occurrence of this assaultive intrusion into a meeting that was held in the true spirit of democracy.”
With guidance from the Stockton Police Department, the League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County will implement security features for future virtual forums that protects all participants. The League of Women Voters has a long and respected history of fighting for human rights; of advocating for the equity of all people; and protecting democracy. The League of Women Voters of California and Leagues across the state are actively working on policy change to advance racial justice in California. The League
stands for equity and justice for all people and does not tolerate racism in any form.
The League is a nonpartisan organization, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government and works on vital issues of concern to members and the public.
Press contact: Elizabeth Leslie, League of Women Voters of California eleslie [at] lwvc.org (916) 842-7737