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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Liberty Lake residents drown out interruption at crowded city council meeting with festive distraction

Liberty Lake Mayor Cris Kaminskas waves her hands in a mock conduction of an impromptu choir of Liberty Lake residents.  (Elena Perry/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Liberty Lake residents took a page out of Hallmark movie script to drown out an offensive interruption at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

A suspected hacker joined the city’s live stream on Zoom and began yelling lewd and racist remarks in the middle of citizen comment, leading the city to attempt shutting off the meeting’s Zoom livestream.

Slurs and vulgarities echoed through the packed chambers until Sue Hamblet, a resident in attendance, began belting “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” drowning out the noise.

“I’m a retired teacher,” Hamblet said. “We learned a long time ago about how to reverse interruptions like that.”

The caroling ensued as the city struggled to silence the disruption. In what was otherwise a tense meeting, city council members laughed and sang along while Mayor Cris Kaminskas conducted the choir.

Councilman Chris Cargill said during the interruption that it was not a Liberty Lake resident who disrupted the meeting, but a hacker. It’s happened before, he said.

At the meeting, council members were slated to discuss a controversial ordinance to control library policy, a power that currently resides with the library board of trustees. A rezoning proposition also drew several residents. These topics filled the chairs at the meeting.

The council approved the new rules giving final decision-making powers over the library to the City Council in a 5-2 vote. 

After the interruption, the city shut down Zoom livestream but started up a new recording of the meeting, although the Zoom didn’t resume.