From episode: Clayton Councilwoman Holly Tillman and Walnut Creek Councilman Kevin Wilk - EPISODE 07
Councilman Wilk says we know that there has been a rise in anti-Semitism and hate over the last 10 years. We really hadn't seen anything that had been localized. Then our first city council meeting in June. We opened up public communication to all people who were in the audience in the chamber, as well as on Zoom, as we've been doing ever since we were back in person. We kept a hybrid format available and we had a couple of callers into Zoom as usual. Then we had several callers in a row in an organized fashion that called in spreading anti-Semitism hate that was directed at me as well as the Jewish community.
They were cut off after a warning, the next person called in talking about freedom of speech issues that it's illegal for the City to shut them down, and that threatened legal action. The next person called in talking about the Brown Act. Another person called in talking about a case study. It was obvious they were in an organized fashion. We didn't know who these people were. They didn't have their videos on. They had anonymous names and we were stunned that this had suddenly happened in Walnut Creek.
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That was the first time we'd heard about it. I started paying a little bit more attention to what was going on after that. Unfortunately, there then started to be some other things that were happening in very racist, hateful, anti-Semitic tones. My name, for example, was put on a billboard above Highway 24 with a Jewish star and a white pride banner next to it. We received some very hateful emails. We also were hit with other Zoom anti-Semitic callers at our next meeting. And it happened for several meetings in a row, which moved between anti -Semitism to racism, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Semitism, and hate always being part of it all. Then we started to hear about this happening in other cities nearby. That's when I really started getting involved with the Anti-Defamation League.
Before I do that, are these people in your community, or where are they coming from? Yeah, so we did hear from the ADL that they'd identified who these people were and evidently, they had called into other areas, but not in California at that point. Turns out two of the people were from outside the county, one from Modesto, one from Vallejo, and two people from outside the state, one from Georgia, and one from Michigan. In a way, I felt comforted that these weren't people in my backyard, but obviously, just the fact that we'd had anti -Semitic and racist flyers that were strewn on the border of Walnut Creek and Concord over the last several months and my name being on a banner across Highway 24. There people weren't in activity that were here, literally in our backyard. It's good to know that these Zoom callers aren't from here, but of course, when it comes to Zoom, you're able to open it up to anybody calling from anywhere in the country.