PHOENIX – More than 300 people gathered on Zoom and Facebook Live to honor the late Calvin C. Goode, civil rights activist and Phoenix City Council “conscience” for 22 years, in a virtual ceremony Tuesday.
After just 20 minutes, the online ceremony was interrupted when at least two people shouted racist slurs. The service continued on a live Facebook feed hosted by the church that Goode attended for decades.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was in the middle of her remarks when the screams started.
She tweeted a statement shortly thereafter: “I condemn the racists who disrupted Deputy Mayor Goode’s funeral. It is horrific and does not represent the values and commitment of our community. I am determined to continue Deputy Mayor Goode’s fight. ”
Goode died on December 23. He was 93 years old.
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In a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Gallego said that while there is no known link between the two events – the U.S. Capitol uprising on January 6 and the slurs used at Goode’s funeral – she fears that “our civil discourse is so poor” following the events in Washington, DC
“There is definitely more work to be done in the fight against racism,” said Gallego. “We are committed to ensuring that if the purpose of disrupting these funeral services was to advance racism, they will fail.”
Gallego said she will speak with the Goode family to solidify how best to “move forward and continue” Goode’s legacy.
“It was a deeply disturbing attack, but I hope it can be a catalytic moment for us to come together and become a better and fairer city,” she said.
Phoenix is ”motivated” to make this happen, according to Gallego.
“I have heard from religious leaders, sports leaders (and) business leaders who know that we are better than this and that we are going to come out stronger through very hard work,” she said. .
The Phoenix Police Department and the FBI are investigating the incident, the mayor said.
U.S. Representative Greg Stanton also took to Twitter to condemn the incident.
“It is a scandal that the memorial to Councilman Calvin Goode was interrupted by white supremacists spitting hatred,” Stanton tweeted. “They came after Calvin after his death because he defeated them all in his lifetime.”
“The whole Goode family is as tough as him and she won’t be disheartened,” added Stanton.
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The livestream continued on the Facebook page of the African Methodist Episcopal Church at the historic Tanner Chapel. Goode has been a member of the church for over 60 years.
Jevin Hodge, president of the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center that Goode founded in Phoenix 55 years ago, said he was heartbroken by the words he heard – heartbroken for Goode’s family and for the community.
When he heard the hackers go online, he immediately said he was furious. Then he burst into tears.
“He represented all that was good with our city, with our state,” he said. “For people to degrade him, and not respect him and not respect him in this matter is heartbreaking.”
Hodge said Goode was a role model and mentor to him, a powerful city leader who stood up for the most vulnerable and a civil rights leader to be remembered statewide and nationwide.
Hodge said the comments show the nation is moving in the wrong direction.
“We have to focus on those moments so that we can learn and grow as we go forward,” he said.
Phoenix advisor Michael Nowakowski said in a statement the act of hate was excruciating and unforgivable and called on the community to take a moment of silence tonight, “to say a prayer for peace in our country and our city” .
“This is what the great Calvin Goode would want us to do,” Nowakowski said.
Nowakowski said as chairman of the Public Safety and Justice Subcommittee he was working closely with the Phoenix Police Department to “find the parties responsible for this and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. . “
Over the two decades Goode served on Phoenix City Council, he worked to improve the city’s poor neighborhoods, support underprivileged youth and fight discrimination. He was the second African American to serve on Phoenix City Council.
The city will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s vacation on Monday with a virtual awards ceremony honoring the most recent winner of the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award.
Contributor: Jen Fifield, The Arizona Republic.
Follow Jamie Landers on Twitter @jamielanderstv.