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Monday, September 21, 2020

Oklahoma City University Graduation Zoombombed With Swastikas, Racial Slurs

Oklahoma City University’s (OCU) virtual graduation on May 9 was disrupted with swastika imagery and the N-word.

Such disruptions, known as Zoombombing, have become more frequent as millions of meetings and school lessons have moved online during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoombombing occurred as a graduate, Jay Williams, was giving a prayer against hate.

“We are heartbroken and outraged at the hate-filled attack that occurred at the end of our virtual graduation celebration,” University President Martha Burger said in a statement. “During a time that should have been focused on recognizing our graduating students, an unknown source was able to bypass the system and display racist and offensive language.”

She added that law enforcement is looking into the matter.

“I want to be clear, OCU stands against racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism,” Burger said.

More than 600 graduates and their family members were on the Zoom ceremony call when the Zoombombing happened.

Williams said on a Facebook live video afterward, “It just hurts so bad to have all of these things taken from you, and the university has tried so hard to try to honor our hard work, and not even get to fully enjoy it. I think that’s the part that hurts the worst.”

A Zoom spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News, “We have been deeply upset to hear about these types of incidents. Zoom strongly condemns such behavior and recently updated several features to help our users more easily protect their meetings.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Deeply upsetting that this virtual graduation had to be interrupted with racism and #antisemitism. Truly disgraceful that in a time to come together, some are using #zoombombing to spread hateful messages.”

Some prior Zoombombing targets include synagogues’ virtual Shabbat services and Jewish student meetings. The ADL held an April 14 webinar with Zoom Chief Product Officer Oded Gal explaining how Zoom’s security settings can be used to protect calls from being Zoombombed.

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