The FBI has offered a noncommittal response to the ongoing series of bomb threats that are continuing to impact the HBCU community and raise serious questions about the safety of students and staff on their campuses. In contrast, Black leaders are sounding the alarm and demanding a full investigation from federal law enforcement officials.
At least thirteen HBCUs reported bomb threats Tuesday morning, coinciding with the first day of Black History Month. That marked the third time since the start of the New Year that multiple historically Black colleges and universities have been targeted with bomb threats on the same day.
Howard University has been threatened in all three incidents.
The increasing number of threats have caused many in the HBCU community to wonder if this is a coordinated attack against these historic institutions. Nearly two dozen schools have now been impacted by these bomb threats since early January.
A few weeks ago, North Carolina Central University was forced to relocate students to a safer location off-campus in Durham when it was dealing with its bomb scare. Thankfully, no one has been injured in any of these incidents. But to characterize these threats as concerning would be an understatement.
That is, apparently, unless you’re the FBI.
NewsOne contacted the nation’s top law enforcement agency to ask about this string of threats made against HBCUs. When asked about the organization’s plan of action to protect these institutions from this potential violence, the FBI provided a neutral statement that neither referred to colleges, let alone HBCUs, nor offered any immediate solutions.
“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 agency said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “As always, we would like to remind members of the public that if they observe anything suspicious to report it to law enforcement immediately.”
When NewsOne followed up by asking if the FBI plans to investigate the string of threats involving HBCUs, the organization responded by saying that it did not have any additional information to provide at this time.
There has been an outcry from people involved in the HBCU community who said they want a stronger public stance from all levels of law enforcement on this issue. And while the perpetrators of the bomb threats were not immediately identified, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas — both representing federal law enforcement agencies above the FBI — said in May that the biggest domestic terror threats come from white supremacists.
Therefore, potential hate crimes from bigots and racists who wish to attack HBCUs are not out of the realm of the possibility.
Congressman Bennie G. Thompson from Mississippi took to Twitter to voice his displeasure of the current situation involving HBCUs. Jackson State University, Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University and Tougaloo College were all notable Mississippi HBCUs to receive bomb threats on Tuesday.
“Each institution should be a safe place for students to grow and learn. The bomb threats to the HBCUs deserve a full investigation, particularly given the dynamic terrorism threat,” said Thompson. “Students and staff members should feel safe on campus and not subjected to violence and fear.”
Other Black leaders expressed similar sentiments, including Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc.
“Ending the repeated targeting of Black spaces and terrorization of its occupants must be an immediate priority of the Department of Justice and this administration,” Nelson tweeted Tuesday. “These recurring threats to HBCUs are highly disruptive and damaging.”
Dr. David Kwabena Wilson, the president of Morgan State University, which was the subject of bonb threats on Tuesday, also demanded the FBI handle the case and said the threats won’t affect the mission of HBCUs.
“We will not be deterred from ‘Growing the Future and Leading the World,’” Wilson tweeted. “I’m calling on the FBI to vigorously investigate this threat to our National Treasure, and to our other sister HBCUs across the nation.”
The role that the FBI and the Biden Administration could play to help thwart these threats could be huge if executed properly.
Let’s hope that these threats will be handled both quickly and safely.