Bomb threats against HBCUs being investigated as hate crimes, FBI says

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The FBI has launched a hate crime and violent extremism investigation following a series of bomb threats made this week against more than a dozen Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the nation.

A Wednesday statement from an FBI spokesperson said Historically Black Colleges and Universities across the country have been recently targeted by bomb threats, prompting a hate crime and racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism investigation. No explosive devices have been found at any of the locations

The investigation is being led by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces and involves more than 20 FBI field offices across the country, according to the statement. The FBI is also investigating threats made against houses of worship, the statement says.

Students, faculty and staff at HBCUs in eight states and Washington, DC were on alert Tuesday as classes were moved online or rescheduled. Many affect institutions issued “all clear” messages by Tuesday afternoon, after law enforcement searches failed to find devices on campuses.

Tuesday’s incidents targeting at least 13 HBCUs were the latest in a string of threats made against Black universities. Howard University in Washington, DC also received threats Monday and Jan. 5.

The bomb threats came as Black History Month began Tuesday.

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the administration wants students and the leaders of the colleges to know “that we are standing with them as they face these threats,” Psaki said.

“It’s scary, it’s horrifying, it’s terrible that these students, these faculty, these institutions are feeling under threat,” she said.

Nylah Tolliver was in her dorm at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans when she read an email alert saying the school received a bomb threat Tuesday morning. Tolliver said the threats made her think about the 1963 bombing at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., In which four young girls were killed and 20 others injured.

“It reminded me of that because those people were just going to church, and they could not even do that in peace,” Tolliver, a college first year, said. “And here we are in 2022, trying to further our education to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, healthcare professionals, we basically just want to be successful and create a future for ourselves and we can not even do that without having a bomb threat. ”

Contributing: Ryan Miller, Kevin Johnson

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