More than a dozen historically Black colleges and universities reported bomb threats Tuesday, marking the second consecutive day of threats at HBCUs nationwide and prompting calls for federal law enforcement to investigate amid campus lockdowns.
David Wilson, president of Morgan State University in Baltimore, which closed its campus Tuesday after a bomb threat was reported, called for the FBI to “aggressively” investigate the threats made to its campus and other HBCUs.
“Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger,” Wilson said.
In a statement to USA TODAY, the FBI said it was investigating.
“The FBI is aware of the series of bomb threats around the country and we are working with our law enforcement partners to address any potential threats,” the statement said. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the bomb threats “disturbing” and said homeland security officials are providing regular updates to Biden and senior staff members. The administration is working closely with law enforcement to assess the origin of the threats and the motivation behind them.
“We don’t have an assessment of that quite yet,” Psaki said Tuesday, but “we take these threats seriously.”
Psaki said the administration wants students and the leaders of the colleges know “that we are standing with them as they face these threats,” Psaki said.
“It is scary, it is horrifying, it is terrible that these students, these faculty, these institutions are feeling under threat,” she said.
MONDAY’S THREATS:Bomb threats received at 6 historically Black colleges and universities across US
Among the other campuses to report new threats Tuesday were Kentucky State University in Frankfort; Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans; Edward Waters University in Jacksonville, Florida; Fort Valley State University in Georgia; Spelman College, in Atlanta; Coppin State University in Baltimore; Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi; Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Mississippi; the University of the District of Columbia; Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas; and Jackson State University in Mississippi.
Many impacted campuses issued “all clear” messages to their communities by Tuesday afternoon, including Jackson State, Kentucky State, Xavier, the University of the District of Columbia, Fort Valley State and Philander Smith.
Howard University, which also received a threat on Jan. 5, received a threat Tuesday and issued an “all clear.”
Spelman College said in a statement that no devices were found during a search of campus buildings and the outer perimeter.
“Reports of nation-wide bomb threats against several HBCU campuses this week are appalling and raise serious concerns about racially targeted hate-based violence in our communities,” Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College, said in a statement. “We have contacted local and federal officials to request reinforcements of campus security and request that a federal investigation of these threats be undertaken immediately.”
Rep. Al Lawson, D-Fla., whose district includes where Edward Waters University is located, said Tuesday that he spoke with the school’s president, A. Zachary Faison Jr., to make sure the community was safe. Lawson said he was “deeply disturbed” by the threats around the country.
“It is reprehensible and unbelievable that at the beginning of Black History Month there is an orchestrated effort to harm students at our beloved educational institutions,” Lawson added.
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On Monday, at least six historically Black colleges and universities in five states and the District of Columbia also reported bomb threats. Last month, a series of bomb threats were made to multiple historically Black universities.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said the threats warrant a full investigation, and he said he was working with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security as well as with leaders of the HBCUs “to get them the answers they deserve.”
In a statement to USA TODAY, Carolyn Gwathmey, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the agency was aware of the threats at the schools and was taking them seriously.
At Howard, which also received a bomb threat Monday, university police chief Marcus Lyles said none of Monday’s threats presented a credible danger, “but they have become a drain on institutional and municipal resources and an unnecessary mental burden on individuals trying to learn and work on our campus.”
The colleges that received threats Monday also included Albany State University in Georgia; Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Bowie State University in Maryland; Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida; and Delaware State University in Dover.
In Daytona Beach, Police Chief Jakari Young said the person who made the bomb threats claimed to be affiliated with a neo-Nazi group. The caller also threatened an active shooting in addition to the bomb threat, Young said.
U.S. Reps. Alma Adams, D-N.C., and French Hill, R-Ark., the co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, said in a statement Monday that they were “deeply disturbed” by the threats.
“Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror. Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement,” the co-chairs said.
The threats come as Black History Month began Tuesday.
Contributing: Kevin Johnson and Michael Collins, USA TODAY; Ashley Varese, The Daytona Beach News-Journal; The Associated Press
Threats earlier this month:Howard University and Spelman College among HBCUs that received bomb threats
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort