May 19, 2024

Bomb threats: FBI says 57 HBCU institutions and churches targeted since January – Tennessean

The bomb threats came via phone calls and emails, instant messages and online posts.
Though no explosives were found, 57 historically Black colleges and universities and houses of worship were targeted by bomb threats between Jan. 4 and Feb. 16, according to a new statement from the FBI. 
“This investigation is of the highest priority for the Bureau and involves 31 FBI field offices that are actively working with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to identify those involved,” read the FBI statement. “The FBI is investigating these cases as racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes.”
The bomb threats began Jan. 4, when at least eight HBCUs were targeted.
The next wave came between Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, the start of Black History Month.
At least six schools received bomb threats on Jan. 31. The following day, at least 15 HBCUs were targeted.
The majority of the schools were in the South: Xavier University of Louisiana (New Orleans, La); Arkansas Baptist College (Little Rock, Ark.); Shorter College (North Little Rock, Ark.); Spelman College (Atlanta, Ga.); Fort Valley State University (Fort Valley, Ga.); Alcorn State University (Lorman, Miss.); Mississippi Valley State University (Itta Bena, Miss.); Jackson State University (Jackson, Miss.); Rust College (Holly Springs, Miss.); and Tougaloo College (near Jackson, Miss.). 
The FBI declined to provide a full list of all 57 institutions targeted.
‘We will remain strong’:Southern HBCUs react to spate of bomb threats
“HBCUs were founded during a time in this country when African Americans and Black and brown people could not go to other institutions to receive an education,” said Tiffani Perry, chief of staff for Rust College after the Feb. 1 threats. “I hope this moment sheds light on the systemic and racial issues that still exist in this country where some people still, in 2022, would threaten the lives of these young people.”
The bomb threats continued into February with Nashville’s Fisk University deciding to close its doors on Feb. 14 after a series of threats were called in about 9 a.m. Students received alerts shortly afterward instructing them to shelter in place. 
Fisk University spokesperson Jens Frederiksen said the school has since heightened security. 
“We’ve got to take everything incredibly seriously,” Frederiksen said.
The Bureau is continuing to conduct interviews and collect digital evidence as it works to find those responsible and asked that any potential information about the bomb threats be reported at 
“We recognize the fear and disruption this has caused across the country and we will continue our work to make sure people feel safe in their communities, schools, and places of worship,” the FBI said in its statement. 
News tips? Questions? Call reporter Andrew Yawn at 985-285-7689 or email him at Sign up for The American South newsletter. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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