Historically black colleges disrupted by bomb threats

A series of unconfirmed bomb threats disrupted life on more than a dozen college campuses this week, drawing the attention of the White ...


A series of unconfirmed bomb threats disrupted life on more than a dozen college campuses this week, drawing the attention of the White House and the FBI.

Threats directed at historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, were of particular concern, including at least 17 that temporarily canceled in-person classes and locked buildings.

President Biden was aware of the threats, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during a press conference Monday.

“I will say these are definitely disturbing,” Ms Psaki said. “And the White House is in contact with interagency partners, including federal law enforcement officials, on this.”

The FBI said in a statement that it was “working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats.”

The authorities have not yet qualified any of these threats as credible. But school officials at many universities have taken precautions, such as sweeping campus buildings and switching to distance learning. Some of the HBCUs have received several threats this year.

Representative Val B. Demings, Florida Democrat and former police chief, said on Twitter Monday that threats against historically black colleges “demand a response.”

“As a former law enforcement officer, I will continue to work to ensure that our institutions and law enforcement have the resources they need to keep all of our students and communities safe” , Ms. Demings said.

On Monday, at least seven HBCUs, including Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, La., and Delaware State University in Dover, Del., received bomb threats.

At least 10 other historically black colleges, including Spelman College in Atlanta, reported threats Tuesday, the first day of Black History Month. The threats were made in the early hours of the day, according to several schools concerned.

Tiara Sankar, a student at Hinds Community College, who closed four campuses in Hinds County, Mississippi, after a bomb threat, said Tuesday she felt angry and scared.

As she drove home via a route that avoided campus, she thought of how the bomb threat had disrupted her education, forcing her to miss an entire day of class.

“For us to be targeted like this, it angers me and hurts me that this is still happening,” said Ms Sankar, 22. “And mentally, it hurts too.”

At least four schools issued “all clear” messages at noon Tuesday, including Kentucky State University; Howard University in Washington, DC; and Jackson State University and Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss.

At Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla., a man who claimed to be from a neo-Nazi organization threatened Monday to detonate bombs at the university, Daytona Beach Police Department Chief Jakari Young said during of one press conference Monday.

Classes were canceled and authorities did not find any bombs, police said.

Chief Young said the FBI is investigating and tracking local officials so they can “connect the dots to other threats that have occurred” at other HBCUs.

Separately Tuesday, UCLA says that all of his classes for the day would be moved away “out of an abundance of caution” after some school staff received threats from a specific person. the the school said thataccording to law enforcement officials, the person was not in California and was “under observation”.

Investigations were still ongoing Tuesday morning at several of the historically black colleges, including those that had received repeated threats this year.

“Threats are despicable,” Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College in Atlanta, said in an email to students and staff on Tuesday. “They are designed to make us feel fearful and vulnerable.”

In a letter To Howard students and staff on Monday, Marcus Lyles, the school’s police chief, said that while the recent threats against the university were not credible, they were “a drain on resources institutional and municipal and an unnecessary mental burden for people trying to learn and work on our campus.

At least eight HBCUs had also received threats on January 5. Many campuses were nearly empty due to winter vacation and the coronavirus pandemic, but dormitories and administrative buildings were still being evacuated.

A week later, the University of Utah reported that its black cultural center had also received a bomb threat.

Recent bomb threats at historically black colleges and universities followed a series of unfounded threats in November at several Ivy League schools as well as campuses in Ohio and California. These threats were later deemed not credible.

Eduardo Medina contributed report.



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