Feb 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

FBI investigating HBCU bomb threats as hate crimes

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) in Washington, DC on February 1, 2022.

The University of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC on February 1, 2022.

The FBI said Wednesday it is investigating the slew of bomb threats at historically Black colleges and universities earlier this week as "racially or ethnically motivated violent extremism and hate crimes."

What they're saying: "This investigation is of the highest priority for the bureau and involves more than 20 FBI field offices across the country," the FBI said in an emailed statement.

  • The agency also said that it is working with local, state and federal law enforcement partners, and coordinating with the targeted institutions to conduct the investigation.
  • "Although at this time no explosive devices have been found at any of the locations, the FBI takes all threats with the utmost seriousness and we are committed to thoroughly and aggressively investigating these threats," the FBI said.

The big picture: Tuesday's threats at over a dozen HBCUs was second day this week and third in the past month that several historically Black colleges and universities had received such threats.

House Judiciary Committee and Congressional Black Caucus leaders sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday requesting an immediate briefing on the investigations.

  • "The students and faculty at these institutions should not have to fear for their lives on campus," the lawmakers wrote, urging Garland and Wray to make direct contact with HBCU leaders.
  • "To the extent that these bomb threats are linked to the recent surge in violence at other minority institutions and houses of worship, we also urge you to coordinate your response with state and local law enforcement officials and across federal agencies," the letter read.
  • "The whole of government must be directed at bringing the perpetrators of these threats to justice without delay."

Members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and the House Committee on Education and Labor also sent a letter Wednesday requesting that the Department of Justice hold a briefing to discuss the threats.

  • "We ask that you provide a briefing to interested congressional offices to discuss the efforts the Department of Justice is taking to coordinate federal and local law enforcement efforts in the investigation of these ongoing threats," the lawmakers wrote.
  • The also asked for an update on the "direct support" the Justice Department is "providing to all our nation's HBCUs to keep their campuses and communities open and safe," per the letter.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with details on lawmakers' letter to the Department of Justice.

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