Otherwise rote Elk Grove Citizen, Chamber of Commerce mayoral forum hampered by anti-Bobbie Singh-Allen protesters

In what was another rote candidate forum sponsored by the Elk Grove Citizen and the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, tonight's event was hampered by protesters who targeted mayoral candidate Bobbie Singh-Allen. 

The protest, organized by the Hmong Ad Hoc group and Citizen for Transparency and Accountability (CTA) organized the event at the Cosumnes Community Services District Wackford Center on Bruceville Road. Although there were about three dozen participants and they were not allowed inside for the forum, their presence was felt throughout the one-hour event. 

Armed with megaphones, the protesters shouted several chants against Singh-Allen and blew sirens. The protest was organized by the groups that have several Hmong-American members who claim Singh-Allen made comments about their culture that were insensitive and racist. 
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During portions of the forum, the megaphone chants and sirens were deployed whenever Singh-Allen spoke. For almost the entire Zoom broadcast, the audio quality was negatively affected. 

Along with the protests, there was a verbal confrontation between one unidentified person who asked Mayor Steve Ly a question as he entered the building for the forum. 

"Why do you lie to your people and harass women," the unidentified man asked the mayor.

As Ly moved away from the man, who was also video recording the encounter on his phone, he was followed to the door. Ly attempted to answer by asking "where in the world did you find that."

He added, "there has never been an accusation about me, sir, you need to check your facts, and thank you."    

As Ly approached a camera crew from KCRA, the man followed him, and the protestors started shouting over the megaphone "Bobbie Singh-Allen is a racist." After about a six-minute confrontation, the lone counter-protester appeared to leave the site. 

Once inside the forum, the audio quality was negatively affected and the candidates indicated they were having trouble from noises penetrating the meeting room. Singh-Allen noted the noise and said she supported the free speech rights of the protesters.

After the meeting, Singh-Allen and Brian Pastor, the third mayoral candidate issued a joint statement condemning the disruptions that they said forced the forum to end early. While both Pastor and Singh-Allen said they support free speech, they said the protesters disrupted the public's ability to hear from two of the three candidates.

Their statement in part said the protest "made a mockery out of the process that the Elk Grove Chamber had laid out and it forced them to end the debate only 30 minutes after it had started. We are disappointed that Mayor Ly refused to take the opportunity provided by the debate organizers to address his supporters and ask them to stop interfering with the ability of other candidates to participate in the debate."

Ly did not respond to a request seeking comment.

In a press release from the CTA issued at the protest, they announced another protest march starting at Elk Grove City Hall on Saturday, October 3. 

A story on the forum discussion will be posted tomorrow. 

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