Racist slurs interrupt funeral for Phoenix civil rights icon Calvin C. Goode

The Phoenix Police Department and the FBI are investigating after a virtual funeral for civil rights icon and city leader Calvin Coolidge Goode was interrupted Tuesday, January 12 by hackers yelling racist slurs.

According to Sgt. Margaret Cox with the Phoenix Police Department, unknown persons were heard making derogatory and racial statements at around 10:20 a.m. on Jan. 12, as the virtual service was being held.

During the incident, the n-word was reportedly used. 

"The Phoenix Police Department has been made aware of the incident and after speaking with the FBI the Department will be the lead investigative agency," read a portion of the statement released by Sgt. Cox.

In a separate statement, Sgt. Cox clarified that Phoenix Police Department will be the lead agency in the investigation.

The Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church hosted the stream on its Facebook page, with family members, city officials and friends speaking through Zoom. The church resumed the memorial in a new stream.

Goode, who died on Dec. 23 from an illness not related to COVID-19, was the second Black councilmember for the city of Phoenix and the longest-tenured elected official in its history, serving on the Phoenix City Council from Jan. 2, 1972 until Jan. 3, 1994, including as vice mayor in 1974 and 1984. Goode was 93 at the time of his death.

City leaders, family members speak out amid outrage

Mayor Kate Gallego spoke out about the incident on Twitter, saying the city does not tolerate hate crimes.

"I condemn the racists who disrupted Vice Mayor Goode’s funeral services. This is horrific and does not represent the values & commitment of our community. I am determined to continue Vice Mayor Goode’s fight," Gallego said.

"He deserves to be laid to rest with deep respect and gratitude, not hateful racist remarks," Democratic U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said.

"The hate act that occurred during the celebration of life for Vice Mayor Goode today was atrocious and unforgivable," Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a statement. "We must do better."

On his Twitter, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey condemned the remarks.

"What happened at Vice Mayor Goode’s virtual funeral is despicable. Calvin Goode was a giant in this community. He fought back against bigotry for 93 years. We will continue the fight and send our condolences to his family who had to endure this attack. Rest in Power Calvin Goode!" Councilmember Carlos Garcia said in a statement.

"My grandpa has always been a huge part of my life. He was my role model teacher motivator he was supportive of everything I did and pushed me to be the best I could," said Goode's granddaughter.

Computer expert weighs in

According to cybersecurity experts, incidents like this are not uncommon in the age of virtual meetings, celebrations and memories.

"Unfortunately, it is called Zoom bombing," said John Hass, Professor of Cyber-Intelligence and Cyber Security with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Hass says it may not be that simple to track the perpetrators down, unless they left a paper trail.

"It depends how long they were on and whether anyone recorded it, whether they have access to the network logs, and Zoom itself can look at all of the addresses that participate," said Hass.

Experts say suspects looking to hack into Zooms could create burner accounts, so it is not easy to track. If they are not tech-savvy, however, investigators will know where to find them.

"Most people don’t know to hide their digital tracks and leave behind the internet protocol address, and that address can be tracked down, even if you think you are being clever. Ot might end up at your doorstep, your ISP," said Hass.

Police officials asking for tips

Phoenix Police officials say anyone with information about the incident can leave an anonymous tip by calling Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Spanish speakers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Testigo Silencioso at 480-TESTIGO.

Si tiene alguna información sobre este incidente, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).

Related stories:

Get breaking news alerts in the FREE FOX 10 News app. Download for Apple iOS or Android.