Racist Slur used at February Council Meeting

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Eric Conklin

ABSECON — The NAACP and city leaders are continuing to push for an investigation to identify a City Council meeting attendee who used a racial slur while on the meeting’s Zoom call on Feb. 3.

In a resolution by the city denouncing the racial slur, the city said “certain individuals” gained access to the Zoom call without legitimate reasons to partake in the behavior. Those managing the Zoom call stopped the racist acts immediately before members of City Council apologized for the disruption, the city said.

The city did not provide the racist act’s full nature, such as what was said or if it was directed at a particular person.

However, Debbie Cunningham, a city resident, said her husband, Glenford, who is Black, as well as another Black couple at the meeting, were the targets of the racism.

Debbie Cunningham said her husband was at the meeting to inquire about the city’s usage of its American Rescue Plan Funds tied to COVID-19 pandemic recovery. After asking a question during public comment, Debbie Cunningham said a female voice came over the Zoom call from a remote location and said, “I didn’t know (expletive) were allowed at the meeting.” 

City Clerk Carie Crone did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday. The Absecon Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation has been probing the incident to locate the suspects and charge them with hate crimes, the city said in a news release Monday. 

“I and the governing body want to make it clear that racism has no place in the City of Absecon and will not be tolerated,” Mayor Kimberly Horton said in a statement Monday. “Moreover, the City of Absecon offers their sincere apology to all residents and to all the attendees of the Feb. 3, 2022, City Council meeting, especially those of Black (descent).”

Following the incident, the city said its officials met with members of the NAACP on Feb. 15 to condemn the racist act and call for an investigation into the incident.

“Working together with the city’s mayor and the governing body clearly demonstrates that the City of Absecon is committed to eliminating all acts of racism during public meetings and the NJSC NAACP is calling for a swift and thorough investigation,” said Rick Robinson, the NJSC NAACP chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee, who looks to report this joint effort to the NJSC NAACP, the Mainland-Pleasantville NAACP Branch, and to the National Office of the NAACP.

Contact Eric Conklin:
Twitter @ACPressConklin

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