Updated Feb 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Over a dozen HBCUs get bomb threats on first day of Black History Month

A sign welcomes visitors to Howard University in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2022
Howard University in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2022. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

More than a dozen historically Black colleges and universities on Tuesday closed campus or cancelled classes due to bomb threats on the first day of Black History Month.

The big picture: It was the second day this week and third in the past month that several HBCUs had received such threats. By Tuesday afternoon, most schools had been cleared and no bombs had been found.

  • House Homeland Security chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement on Tuesday night that he was briefed by the FBI on a plan to apprehend those "responsible for this violent threat."
  • This included coordinating with federal and state officials to ensure the safety of each institution affected by "this act of terrorism," he added.

What's happening: According to school officials or authorities, the campuses that received threats on Tuesday include...

What they're saying: “We take these threats incredibly seriously ... our homeland security adviser is in close touch with law enforcement authorities at a federal and local level and we are assessing what we think the origin, the reasoning the motivation behind it," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

  • "Let me just reiterate that we condemn these disturbing threats and our thoughts are with the students, faculty and staff at these historic institutions."

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), a former police chief, wrote Tuesday on Twitter that the threats "demand a response."

  • "As a former law enforcement officer I'll keep working to make sure our institutions and law enforcement have the resources they need to keep all of our students and communities safe," Demings said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Monday called for "a complete and thorough investigation"

  • "The terror [the threats have] caused raises serious questions about the existence of hate-based violence across our nation and in our communities," Hoyer added.

Our thought bubble via Axios’ Russell Contreras: The bomb threats come as new data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism showed a massive spike last year in suspected hate crimes in over a dozen of the largest U.S. cities.

  • HBCUs have long represented important community links to Black Americans and have recently become more diverse with Asian American and Latino students.

The bottom line: "Our history has been one where we have endured all kinds of challenges and disruptions, but we have always emerged stronger," Morgan State University president David Wilson said in a statement Tuesday.

  • "I’m hopeful that these bomb threats to our National Treasure, and to many of our other sister HBCU institutions, will be aggressively investigated by the FBI," he added.

Go deeper: At least 6 historically Black colleges receive bomb threats

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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