A former student from Kean University in Union, New Jersey, who now a 24-year-0ld activist, has been charged with making threats to black students, faculty, and staff members at the school over Twitter.
According to authorities, Kayla-Simone McKelvey tweeted the threats through a computer she used on campus one night after she attended a rally protesting racial intolerance on college campuses across the country.
Posted to Twitter anonymously on November 17, the messages included "I will shoot every black woman and male I see at kean university" and "@keanuniversity theres a bomb on your campus." The messages caused fear among the campus of around 16,000 students and left many classrooms empty the following day.
Union County Prosecutor Grace Park stated that McKelvey, president of the Pan-African Student Union, left the rally about halfway through. From there, authorities believe she went to the university library and used a computer there to create an anonymous Twitter account. That account was used to post the violent threats against black staff and students at the school.
McKelvey then went back to the rally where she began to draw attention to the newly posted threats.
As a result of the threats, additional police security was added at the school and Homeland Security was notified, as were local, county, and state authorities.
The Twitter account was shut down by the following morning, but students on campus still feared for their safety, with some even choosing to remain in their rooms. The university police said that the school would still be open that day despite the threats.
"As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others. We hope this information will begin to bring a sense of relief and security to the campus community," Kean President Dawood Farahi wrote in a message for the campus community.
A police investigation discovered no intent to bring harm to any students on campus, although research into motive is continuing. As a result, McKelvey was charged with one count of creating a false public alarm.
Kean senior Tanaera Green, a member of the Pan-African Student Union (PASU), said she was surprised to hear of the allegations brought against McKelvey, who she believed would know better than to do something of that nature. However, she added that doing so sparked a conversation between students and campus administrators pertaining to racism.
Racially charged threats have seen an increase at college campuses across the country recently. Classes were cancelled at the University of Chicago last week after a student from another university threatened to kill people on the quad and die "killing any number of white policeman I can." A similar instance occurred at Western Washington University last week after threats against minority students were made on social media, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post.
In October, someone wrote "KILL ALL BY 10/8/15" on a bathroom wall, causing Eastern Kentucky University to shut down for multiple days. The threat came right after a student at an Oregon community college killed nine people in a single classroom by gunfire.
McKelvey is due in court on December 14 at the Union County Jail.