Scottsbluff Police are heading up an investigation into an incident involving multiple individuals interrupting the Scottsbluff school board meeting Monday. Through the online networking program Zoom, the individuals “bombed” the meeting, with numerous racial slurs, as school board officials sought to recognize a student.
“We initiated an investigation immediately,” Scottsbluff Police Chief Kevin Spencer said. “We have made this investigation a priority and realize the importance to the community.”
The student who had been speaking at the time of the “Zoom bomb,” had been being recognized for earning a Congressional Gold Medal. She had been involved in previously speaking to the board on race and diversity issues.
“This does not and should not overshadow the accomplishments of the young lady,’ Spencer said. “What she accomplished is pretty incredible and something that the community is proud of. I hope this does not take any of the focus from what she has done.”
The specific crime that could be charged arising from the incident will be decided by prosecutors once police conclude their investigation, Spencer said.
Some have suggested that a hate crime should be charged, however, Nebraska state statute is very specific, with crimes from graffiti to assaults covered by the statute, but not an interruption of a meeting by using racial slurs.
For police, the investigation will begin with serving a search warrant, Spencer said.
“We will get as much of the digital data that we can,” he said. “A lot of times, that information can be slow in getting back to us, but we will try to encourage the company to provide that data as quickly as possible.”
The Scottsbluff Police Department will work with the Nebraska State Patrol’s Nebraska Information Analysis Center and Mid-States Organized Crime Information Center, which can both assist in providing the expertise needed to analyze digital data.
“We are going to thoroughly and quickly as possible investigate this and present it to the prosecutors.”
Spencer said he expected both city prosecutors and prosecutors with the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office would be involved to consider the appropriate charges.