Hackers Disrupt San Jose Church's Online Easter Service with Profanity, Racist Hate Speech

Len Ramirez reports on police investigating verbal abuse of hacker who hijacked a San Jose church's Easter service as a hate crime (4-7-2021)

Video Transcript

ALLEN MARTIN: Police are investigating a hate crime against a San Jose Baptist church. This happened Easter Sunday, when intruders hacked an online service. KPIX5's Len Ramirez on why this incident was especially cruel.

GEORGE OLIVER: --that what happened to us on Easter Sunday morning was unconscionable.

LEN RAMIREZ: It was Reverend George Oliver's first Easter service at Grace Baptist Church-- a hybrid outside in-person and online Zoom celebration.

GEORGE OLIVER: If anyone has a specific prayer request.

LEN RAMIREZ: He had just open up the service for anyone online to ask for prayers when two young men crashed in with loud music and a lengthy string of f-bombs and n-words.

- Yo, what's up my [BLEEP] monkey noises, dog?

- Who is that?

- Yo.

LEN RAMIREZ: Parishioners tried to get the intruders to stop, but it only got worse with attacks on Jews and LBGTQs.

- This [BLEEP] gay [BLEEP].

GEORGE OLIVER: I am an out, gay, Black man that is the pastor of this church. I was preaching outside in front of a rainbow banner. That's the day that they chose to bombard this church with anti-Semitic rants, with homophobic and transphobic rants, and with racist rants against African Americans and the Latinx population. This is uncalled for, and we demand justice.

LEN RAMIREZ: Zoom security tracked down the emails of the intruders and blocked them from the platform. They're also working with the San Jose Police Department, which is investigating the incident as a hate crime.

BEIJA GONZALEZ: To hear our youth spitting such hate, that really tells you how deep the hate and the white supremacy is in this community.

LEN RAMIREZ: It comes just four months after five people were stabbed, two fatally, by a mentally ill person in part of the church providing services for the homeless. One parishioner who survived being stabbed three times said this is testing his faith even more than the knife attack.

JAMES CHELLEY: It has been easier for me to forgive the person that stabbed me physically than it is for me to forgive somebody with this amount of hatred.

LEN RAMIREZ: The pastor said the hate won't change his ministry, which serves some of the most vulnerable.

GEORGE OLIVER: This community was selected for a specific reason. And what we are saying is that we will resist that reason and put our faith back on full public display.

LEN RAMIREZ: And besides the racist comments, the hackers apparently also made threats of violence. And according to some viewers-- it wasn't on our feed-- but they apparently didn't even bother to cover their faces. One viewer sent a witness statement in from Arizona, saying that the hackers appeared to be teenage boys.

In San Jose, Len Ramirez, KPIX5.