On Tuesday, around 5:30 p.m., campus police at N.C. Central University investigated a call communicating a bomb threat. Campus buildings were locked down, students already on campus were alerted, and some were evacuated to St. Joseph AME Church and Hillside High School in Durham.
“The Durham Police Department, Durham County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Durham City/County Emergency Management, as well as North Carolina State University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Police Departments, worked with NCCU Police Department to ensure that all buildings were cleared for the safe return of students, faculty and staff,” officials at N.C. Central said in a press release.
No explosive material was found on the campus and students were allowed to return about four hours later, around 9:15 p.m., the press release said.
A one-off incident like this is frightening, but more disturbingly, N.C. Central is one of at least eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that received bomb threats on Tuesday, according to reports.
Other universities that were targeted, according to the Washington Post, include Howard University in Washington, D.C., Spelman College in Atlanta, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Florida Memorial University, Norfolk State University, Prairie View A&M University in Texas, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Many of the schools went on lockdown and, like N.C. Central, evacuated any students who were on campus moving into housing before the spring semester opens. By Wednesday, all the campuses were cleared and deemed safe for students to return.
N.C. Central students told WRAL they want more information and further action:
“It’s really devastating to know that people got it in their heart about bombing HBCUs,” said a student at NCCU, Justin Wright. “I feel like it’s more so like a hate crime. Somebody who just don’t want to see black people succeed. It didn’t really sit well with me.”
This incident comes with the spring semester starting on Monday. And students like Kennecia Woolard have already experienced some traumatizing events here. In 2020, a bullet flew through dorm room window.
“I honestly felt like the updates were a little slow. I wanted a little bit more. We wanted more updates. Is everybody OK? Did everyone evacuate safely? Is there an actual person within the area who is threatening the university?’”said Woolard.
The university said it followed its procedures in a statement, saying, “The campus was immediately placed on lockdown and alert notifications were issued to students and employees.”
Beyond the responses of the individual universities that received threats, there’s little else reported about these incidents. From the Post story:
“Whitney Cruse, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Washington Field Office said they are collaborating with other law enforcement agencies in areas where the threats occurred.
“We have no current evidence that HBCU’s are specifically targeted,” Cruse said in a statement. “We are monitoring the events closely.’”
Cruse’s quote seems strange considering eight HBCUs received threats on the same day. And for this to happen the week of the anniversary of an attempted white-supremacist coup at the Capitol seems a little more than coincidental. But the Post reports:
“The threats come after three Ivy League schools received similar threats in November and TikTok posts hinting at potential school shootings prompted a dozen school districts across the country to tighten security last month. Law enforcement officials later determined those threats were not credible.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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