Several historically Black colleges and universities receive bomb threats

Six Black colleges and universities faced bomb threats less than a month after threats were made to eight universities.

Exterior of Howard University
Howard University in Washington, DC, US was once of the campuses that received a bomb threat [Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

At least six historically Black universities and colleges in the United States have received bomb threats, forcing several to shut down campuses and cancel classes for the day.

On Monday, Albany State University in Georgia, Delaware State University in Delaware, Southern University and A&M College in Louisiana, Howard University in Washington, Bowie State University in Maryland and Bethune-Cookman University in Florida were among the schools that received threats.

The FBI “is aware of bomb threats received by some Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, the agency said in a statement. “The FBI takes all potential threats seriously, and we regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine their credibility.”

The development come less than a month after bomb threats were made to eight historically Black universities on January 5. No suspicious packages or explosives were found, but the events rattled nerves in a nation that is still coming to terms with its history of racial violence and discrimination.

In 2020, the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis under the knee of a white police officer set off months of nationwide protests and demands for an end to police violence and racial discrimination against Black Americans.

“We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month,” the co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus said in a statement Monday.

“Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror,” it said. “Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary during a regular news conference on Monday said that President Joe Biden has been made aware of the incidents.

“These are certainly disturbing,” she said. “The White House is in touch with the interagency partners including federal law enforcement leadership on this.”

In Georgia, Albany State University warned students and faculty on social media that “a bomb threat has been issued to Albany State University’s academic buildings.”

School officials at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana told students to stay in their dormitories until an all-clear was given.

At Bowie State University in Maryland, school officials told everyone on campus to shelter in place until more information was available. Explosive detection dogs and bomb technicians were helping campus police to sweep buildings, The Office of the State Fire Marshall said in a statement. WTOP-TV showed images of police activity concentrated around Charlotte Robinson Hall.

Exterior of Howard University
Howard University, one of the nation’s most prestigious Black colleges also received a threat on Monday [File: Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo]

Howard University in Washington, DC was also the subject of a bomb threat before dawn Monday, but later gave an all-clear to students and staff, local news reported.

In Florida, Daytona Beach police said in a tweet they have cleared the Bethune-Cookman campus of any bomb threat. But classes were cancelled for the day and the agency will have a police presence on campus for the rest of the day.

Delaware State University spokesperson Carlos Holmes told local news outlets a bomb threat to that campus was made early Monday morning.

Tom Chittum, the acting deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) confirmed on Monday that the agency was on the scene to investigate bomb threats at the schools.

“It is a federal crime to use interstate facilities to make a bomb threat,” he told reporters in a call. “ATF will provide our investigative expertise and support to that investigation. But obviously, the facts are preliminary.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies