Hate speech, bomb threats mar Reno City Council meeting

On Sunday June 7, 2020, citizens gathered in Reno City Park to protest George Floyd's murder while in Minneapolis police custody and to call for police reform in Nevada - photo: Brian Bahouth/The Ally

Since the vandalism and subsequent riot at Reno City Hall on May 30, public comment during Reno City Council meetings has been extensive and emotional at times in its criticism of police actions on the night of the riot. But today, during an online Reno City Council meeting, saboteurs took turns spewing hate speech and bomb threats when afforded the opportunity to speak.

On Saturday May 30, hundreds gathered in City Park across from Reno City Hall to peacefully protest the murder of George Floyd while he was in Minneapolis police custody.

When vandals not affiliated with the protest broke into City Hall and caused significant damage to City Council Chambers and other offices, Reno police used pepper gas and concussion grenades to disperse the crowd.

During today’s online meeting, the very first public comment came from a man who identified himself as Vance Walker.

“Okay, I would first like to mention the protests going on … what I mean by the protest are like, we need to just stop … why can’t we be equal and just get along … fuck n—–s, fuck n—–s …”

The secretary cut the audio for violation of decorum rules.

The next speaker, Brittany Kindersmith, denounced the racist comments and announced the formation of a group called Believe Nevada. Kindersmith said the group has 3 demands for the City Council.

“First, we would like to see there be a public review board for the police department.

“We would also like there to be a monthly town hall specifically focused on racial justice.

“And we would like to see you all allocate budgetary funds for that, that will take away the barriers for people to participate in their own civic duties, be able to come to the meetings. That would be things like offering people bus pass reimbursement, offering free childcare,” Kindersmith said.

Vera Miller offered public comment and denounced the racist statements. She also called to defund and demilitarize the police and offered other ways to spend the police budget.

“These funds need to be put into affordable housing and affordable health care, especially in the wake of COVID,” Miller said. “These funds need to be put towards mental health services and other community services that aren’t carceral entities.

“We want these police departments to be demilitarized and disarmed. They keep shooting people. We want them not to shoot people.

“We have said this time and time before and say it again. We want y’all to cut ties from ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Under no circumstances should you ever work with ICE. All policing bodies should cut ties from ICE,” Miller said.

There were a couple calls for greater police oversight and transparency when using force. Several called for regular public meetings to discuss police relations.

Then, a man who identified himself as Gregory Martin made a bomb threat.

“Listen to what I’m about to say. If you mute me, there will be trouble. I planted 7 bombs in your city council. My men have planted them. I know where you are,“ the disembodied voice said.

Once again, the secretary cut the audio for violation of decorum rules.

A person who identified as Josh Gibbons made a bomb threat.

“All I wanted to say is that my man has planted seven bombs across the city including …”

The secretary muted the audio.

Vice Mayor Devon Reese asked the secretary to closely ride the mute button for the remainder of public comment period. An anonymous speaker was not allowed to speak.

A person who identified as Jamie Charles made racist threats.

“Oh, hey, hey, my name is Jamie. I want to say we should quit … we should kill a motherfucking n—-, n—-, n—-.”

According to a City of Reno spokesperson, the Reno Police Department is investigating the comments as hate crimes and will make an announcement should arrests be made.