Edinburgh University Zoom meeting hijacked

Black and LGBT students attacked amid racist and homophobic slurs

Black and LGBT students at the University of Edinburgh were attacked during a Zoom video call held on Sunday, 14 February. The virtual event named “Pro Black and Anti-Gay?” was hosted by the university's African and Caribbean Society and focused on how communities could "move forward, learn to be accepting of each other and love ourselves."

Sources confirmed that 50 people were given a link to join the meeting, however the room was not password protected.

Towards the end of the event, “hijackers” joined the meeting and shouted “White power” among several racist slogans. They also displayed pornography involving black individuals and were able to post racial and homophobic slurs in the meeting via Zoom's chat feature.

“We had pretty much completed the event,” stated Lucien, one of the event’s hosts.

"And when we said we would start taking questions from the floor, that's when it all started."

An audience member described feeling “helpless” as attackers continued to rejoin and to give rise to unethical comments. "Even after being kicked out of the event, the attackers rejoined multiple times, through links that had been shared with students at the university," she remarked.

Jason Jones, Caribbean LGBT rights campaigner declared that this was the first time such an unpleasant attack had occurred to him in 30 years of campaigning.

"This was a virtual hate crime.

“It was so out of the blue that there was no way of preparing for it.

"This attack was designed to get under my skin and create fear and intimidation.

“I have had a very dark and awful emotional response to it.

"It reduced me to tears," he added.

As a response to the attack, the African and Caribbean Society assured that it would take action and that the crime would be “reported to higher authorities.”

“This event was interrupted by bigots using abhorrent homophobic and racist slurs and threats.

“We strongly condemn their actions and this attack only proved the necessity of these discussions.

“We maintain a zero-tolerance on any form of discrimination,” it expressed on its public statement on Instagram.

Moreover, the university guaranteed that it regarded "any incident of discrimination as a serious matter."

Zoom responded to the incident by saying it was “deeply upset” and an investigation had begun. The Trust and Safety team are already looking into the attack and taking the matter seriously. "And where appropriate, we work closely with law-enforcement authorities," it ensured.

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