SAN JOSE, California (KPIX) -- San Jose Police are investigating a hate crime against a San Jose Baptist church after suspects hacked into their online Easter services and unleashed a flurry of profane racist and homophobic comments.
The incident happened on Sunday, April 4, during a Zoom livestream of Grace Baptist Church’s Easter services.
“What happened to us on Easter Sunday Morning was unconscionable,” said Reverend George Oliver.
He had just opened the service for anyone online to ask for prayers when the intruders crashed in with loud music and a lengthy string of profanity and n-words.
“Yo, what’s up my n—– monkey noises,” one of the hackers is heard saying on a recording of the incident.
Parishioners tried to get the intruders to stop, but it only got worse with attacks on Jews and LGBTQ’s.
“I am an out, gay, Black man. I was preaching in front of a rainbow banner, and that’s the day they chose to bombard this church with anti-Semitic rants; with homophobic and transphobic rants and racist rants against African Americans and the Latinx community,” Rev. Oliver said. “This is uncalled for and we demand justice.”
Zoom security tracked down the emails of the intruders and blocked them from the platform.
The company are also working with the San Jose Police Department, which is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
“To hear our youth spewing such hate really tells you how deep the white supremacy and hate is in this community,” said Grace Baptist Church parishioner Beija Gonzalez.
The incident comes just four months after five people were stabbed, two fatally, by a mentally ill person in a part of the church providing services to the homeless.
James Chelley, a parishioner who survived being stabbed three times, told KPIX this verbal attack is testing his faith even more than the physical violence he experienced.
“It has been easier to forgive the person who stabbed me physically than it is to forgive someone with this amount of hate. Because the person who stabbed me was not in his right mind. But these people online are just filled with hatred,” said James Chelley.
Rev. Oliver said the hate won’t change his ministry, which serves some of the most vulnerable in the San Jose community.
“This church was selected; this pastor was selected. This community was selected for a specific reason. We will resist that reason and put our faith back on full public display,” he said.
Besides the racist comments, the hackers also made threats of violence. And they apparently didn’t bother to cover their faces.
One viewer in Arizona sent the church a witness statement saying the hackers appeared to be teenage boys.