Penn State Police Investigate 2 ‘Zoom Bombings’
Campus officials say the attacks were racially motivated and follow a previous incident involving 51 Zoom bombers who uttered racist and homophobic slurs.
University Park, Pennsylvania – Penn State officials announced that they’ve been made aware of two “Zoom bombing” incidents, which happened on Tuesday at two separate virtual diversity events held at the Brandywine and University Park campuses.
During both incidents, the Zoom bomber allegedly directed hate speech and “horrific” gestures at guests attending the virtual events, reports StateCollege.com. At one event, the perpetrator allegedly said he or she was a police officer while displaying what appeared to be a firearm, reports the Daily Collegian. The Zoom bomber also allegedly showed videos of assaults on Black men and women.
At the other Zoom event, the unauthorized user “reenacted the killing of George Floyd” and made threats about raping black women.
The attacks occurred only a couple weeks after 51 unauthorized attendees joined a January 27 event hosted by the Penn State Black Caucus. StateCollege.com reports that the uninvited guests uttered racist and homophobic slurs while also sending anti-Semitic and white supremacist language and symbols in the chat.
The University Police and Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Unit is actively investigating both of Tuesday’s incidents. Additional outreach is taking place to determine if these attacks are isolated or more widespread on Penn State’s campuses.
“These vile activities are reprehensible and the disruption and trauma they create is inexcusable,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “We must continue to stand strong together against these appalling incidents and show that our community will not tolerate the hate-filled words and actions of those who hide behind the anonymity of a computer screen. These are criminal activities and, if found, we will hold the perpetrators responsible.”
School officials recommend that those hosting Zoom events review how to secure their meetings in order to prevent harassment.
“One key tactic to thwart unwanted participants includes controlling how participants can enter the meeting, by requiring a password or setting up a waiting room and checking in attendees individually,” school officials said in a statement. “Meanwhile, the University said it is exploring the potential for additional steps it can take to help secure zoom meetings.”