PHOENIX – More than 300 people joined together on Zoom and Facebook Live to honor the late Calvin C. Goode, a civil rights activist and the “conscience” of the Phoenix City Council for a record 22 years, in a virtual ceremony on Tuesday.
After only 20 minutes, the online ceremony was interrupted when at least two people shouted racial slurs. The service continued on a Facebook Live stream hosted by the church that Goode attended for decades.
Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego was in the middle of her remarks when the shouting started.
She tweeted a statement shortly after: “I condemn the racists who disrupted Vice Mayor Goode’s funeral services. This is horrific and does not represent the values & commitment of our community. I am determined to continue Vice Mayor Goode’s fight.”
Goode died Dec. 23. He was 93.
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In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Gallego said while there is no known connection between the two events — the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 and slurs used at Goode’s funeral service — she is concerned that “our civil discourse is so poor” following the events in Washington, D.C.
“There is unquestionably more work to do in combatting racism,” Gallego said. “We are committed to making sure that if the goal of interrupting these funeral services was to advance racism, that they will fail.”
Gallego said she will speak with the Goode family to solidify the best way to “move forward and continue” Goode’s legacy.
“It was a deeply disturbing attack, but hopefully it can be a catalytic moment for us to come together and become a better, more equitable city,” she said.
Phoenix is “motivated” to make that happen, according to Gallego.
“I have heard from faith leaders, sports leaders (and) business leaders that know we are better than this and that we are going to come out of it stronger through very difficult hard work,” she said.
The Phoenix Police Department and the FBI are investigating the incident, the mayor said.
U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton also took to Twitter to condemn the incident.
“It’s an outrage that Councilman Calvin Goode’s memorial was interrupted by hate-spewing white supremacists,” Stanton tweeted. “They came after Calvin after his death because he defeated them all while he was alive.”
“The entire Goode family is as tough as he was, and they will not be deterred,” Stanton added.
The livestream continued on the Facebook page for Historic Tanner Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.Goode was a member of the church for more than 60 years.
Jevin Hodge, president of the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center that Goode founded in Phoenix 55 years ago, said he is heartbroken over the words he heard — heartbroken for Goode’s family and for the community.
When he heard the hackers go live, he said he was immediately furious. Then he broke into tears.
“He represented everything good with our city, with our state,” he said. “For people to deface him and disrespect him and disregard him in that matter is heartbreaking.”
Hodge said Goode was a role model and mentor to him, a powerful leader for the city who stood up for the most vulnerable, and a civil rights leader who should be remembered across the state and across the country.
Hodge said the comments show that the nation is moving in the wrong direction.
“We need to focus on these moments so we can learn and grow as we move forward,” he said.
Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski said in a statement the hate act was atrocious and unforgivable and called on the community to take a moment of silence this evening, “to say a prayer for peace in our country and city.”
“This is what the great Calvin Goode would want us to do,” Nowakowski said.
Nowakowski said as the chair of the Public Safety and Justice subcommittee he is working closely with Phoenix police to “find the parties responsible for this and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.”
In the two decades Goode served on the Phoenix City Council, he worked to improve impoverished areas of the city, support disadvantaged youths and fight discrimination. He was the second African American to serve on the Phoenix City Council.
The city will celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Monday with a virtual award ceremony honoring the newest honoree of the Calvin C. Goode Lifetime Achievement Award.
Contributing: Jen Fifield, The Arizona Republic.
Follow Jamie Landers on Twitter @jamielanderstv.