An Oregon City Council meeting was reportedly overtaken by several AI-generated speaker bots that spewed hate and racist comments at their Jewish mayor.
During the Oct. 3 Beaverton City Council virtual meeting, more than a dozen callers began expressing racist, bigoted and conspiratorial views to members, forcing Mayor Lacey Beaty to quickly shut them down.
After in-person testimony, the council soon began hearing from everyone who signed up for an online testimony, many of those with the same intro of, “Hello, can you hear me?”
Soon the first speaker launched into an anti-Semitic tirade, which Beaty interrupted and stopped.
The exact insults were redacted from a public video of the meeting uploaded to the council’s website.
A virtual Beaverton City Council meeting was flooded with callers expressing racist, bigoted and conspiratorial views toward members
Subsequent callers’ comments became more syrupy and vitriolic and were filled with racist, homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic views. One caller also dropped the n-word before being immediately shut down.
As Beaty continued to mute those callers, other council members looked at each other in shock and amusement at the unfolding incident.
The names of these callers were the same as common human names to avoid any suspicion. Many of them also continued to cite their First Amendment rights.
Mayor Beaty told it KOIN.com: ‘At first I was like, ‘Oh, that’s weird, we have a lot of online reactions that were almost in proportion to what was in the room.’
“And as soon as I started naming names, the first speaker out of the gate, started naming members of the Jewish community and leaders, I immediately knew which way things were going to go.
“I looked at the rest of the names and tried to figure out if this was a one-off or if everyone on the Zoom line would embrace similar sentiments, and as soon as it went from naming names to something horrific, I just cut away. them off.’
She said The Oregonian/OregonLive: ‘I feel like one person logged in, using AI. I know this is not the heartbeat of our community.”
Beaty also said there was evidence that someone was using AI and that they had pre-recorded the comments.
She heard a caller’s voice suddenly become robotic and they started talking at three times the usual speed.
The names of these callers were the same as common human names to avoid any suspicion. Many of them also continued to cite their First Amendment rights
There were also several children and teenagers present at the meeting, and many gasped and looked to Beavy to take action.
“What you can’t see in the clip is that we had young people in the audience who were there to get a walk-and-ride proclamation that I issued, and there were kids from my daughter’s school in the public, as this had happened.
“I really made an intuitive decision, not only as mayor but also as a mother, when I looked out into the crowd and heard people gasp and saw the young children looking at me, expecting me to do something,” said she.
DailyMail.com contacted the council for comment but it was not available.
The council later published a statement on their Facebook expressing their “deepest empathy” and opposing such intolerance.
“We would like to acknowledge that the October 3 City Council meeting was targeted by those seeking to spread hate and hurtful speech. We express our deepest empathy with all who witnessed this display of bigotry and reaffirm our commitment to maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all who choose to call our community home.
As Beaty continued to mute those callers, other council members looked at each other in shock and amusement at what was unfolding
“We stand united against acts of intolerance of any kind against the valued members of our community who make us stronger together.
“While we cannot prevent this type of behavior from happening again in the future, we will do our best to improve processes to stay prepared. We ask that you continue to participate within your local government on issues that are important to you and support each other during this time.”
While the city isn’t sure if these callers were AI bots or real people, Beaty reached out to other mayors to find out if this had happened to them. She found that such incidents mainly occurred in cities with female mayors.
The next council meeting is scheduled for October 17 without restrictions. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for this event.