A discussion about coronavirus vaccines became so heated during a San Diego board of supervisors meeting on Tuesday night that one public attendee unleashed a vile, racist attack before being booted by security and ditched by a radio station he worked for.
San Diego County lawmakers used the meeting to provide routine updates about new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, transmission rates, and how vaccination rates can stall coronavirus from spreading in the county. Officials also spoke about children between the ages of 5 and 11 getting inoculated.
But, during the session, residents were able to make open comments, and more than a dozen stood at a podium to vocalize their disdain and concern about the pandemic. San Diego doesn’t have an indoor vaccine mandate but many attendees used the meeting to cast doubt on the efficacy of the vaccine and question why there were even COVID-19 restrictions. One speaker then turned his pandemic rant into a wave of personal digs.
“Ladies, gentlemen,” Jason Robo said to the public standing behind him, according to a recording of the meeting. “Traitors,” he addressed the board members.
After expressing skepticism about the pandemic and vaccine, Robo told members of the board to resign.
“Vargas,” Robo said to board supervisor Nora Vargas, who is Latina, “I can’t wait for your arteries to clog. They’re not doing it fast enough.”
Through laughter from the public in the back, he told board supervisor Nathan Fletcher to kill himself and supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to hang from a tree like a monkey.
Then, Robo moved on to the county’s public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, who is Black.
“Wooten,” he said, “you’re a f—ing Aunt Jemima. Syrup on sweet will cause your diabetic—”
Vargas interrupted the hate-filled rant and told Robo to apologize to Wooten, which he declined. The two yelled back and forth until security made Robo leave the podium.
The San Diego chapter president of the NAACP told CBS 8 that the “branch and its membership were appalled” at the outburst.
“[Dr. Wooten] is employed. She is not elected and she is the top official,” President Francine Maxwell told the news outlet on Wednesday. “It was disgusting. Maybe that man would like people to come to his place of employment and do what he did last night. Someone yelling expletives; talking about someone’s weight; and someone being called a monkey, have we really sunken that low?
“He was race-baiting,” she continued. “Calling a Black woman of [Wooten’s] stature with her credentials, with her degrees an Aunt Jemima—it was completely disrespectful. She has consistently been attacked for over 18 months. We need to go ahead and have the chairman set a policy and create a safe work environment because that man should’ve been stopped well before [Vargas] had said something.”
Robo, a wannabe stand-up comedian well-known in some parts of California for his bizarre and often racist efforts at activism, received some swift backlash for his outburst.
According to the Times of San Diego, the news director of the radio station said in a statement: “The volunteer programmer in question has little to no direct relationship to the station, as their pre-recorded show is submitted. We would like to be clear that their opinions do not reflect our values. While these statements were made on an outside platform, we have begun the discussion into their future as a volunteer… While we understand the importance of free speech, we recognize the difference between that and hate speech.”
The Times also reported that the founder of Mad House said in a statement, “We are an uncensored comedy club. We are politically neutral as a business. However, ‘uncensored’ is not a green light to be racist. We have a diverse group of employees we love. We have a diverse group of performers we love. We have a diverse group of customers we love. We stand with all of them and will not allow Mr. Robo to perform on any show at the Mad House including the open mic.”
However, not everyone felt that Robo should have been interrupted. Nearly two hours after he spoke, another public attendee took to the podium to justify the disgusting outburst as free speech.
“Ms. Vargas,” he began, “[the] First Amendment is a very tough thing. It’s ugly. But it’s very precious also. You could’ve spoken afterwards and given [Robo] his two minutes—as ugly as it was.”
In an unaired interview with NBC 7, Robo claimed he attacked Vargas because he felt she was “not a good representative” of her ethnicity. He also claimed that his status as a comedian somehow justified his attempt to bring up race. He compared the concept of talking about race with people being forced into getting vaccinated. Then, he claimed that he could not be racist because he previously dated a woman who was Black and Cherokee.
Before his racism and hateful tantrum, Robo told the council meeting that the pandemic was planned and a “premeditated scam.” He compared finding the truth online to finding “a kid at John Wayne Gacy’s house.” Robo blamed the board for being “minions of the pharmaceutical industry” and for closing beaches during the pandemic, which he said killed people, and for being “vax murderers.”
“Then, you mandate the vax. You’re a vax murderer basically,” he charged. “We are your adverse reaction. You should resign.”