New Jersey university probes threats against African-Americans

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 12:40 PM

By Laila Kearney

(Reuters) - New Jersey's Kean University is investigating threats of violence against African-Americans on its campus that appeared on social media while students were staging protests over racial inequality, the school said on Wednesday.

An anonymous user posted messages to Twitter on Tuesday night, threatening to kill or shoot black students and others at the school, where students have been demonstrating to raise awareness about racism on U.S. campuses.

"I will shoot every black woman and male I see at Kean University," wrote the Twitter user using the name @keanuagainstblk. The account has since been suspended.

Kean University police said they alerted federal, state and local law enforcement and were providing extra security. The school in Union, about 10 miles southwest of Newark, remained open on Wednesday.

"We are profoundly troubled by this display of hatred which does not reflect in any way the values we hold sacred on our diverse campus," Kean University police said in a statement.

Kean, a public university with 13,000 undergraduates, is one of many where students have staged demonstrations and walkouts in sympathy with students at the University of Missouri, where the school president resigned in the wake of protests over his handling of on-campus racial issues.

While many students at schools such as Smith College, a private liberal arts college in Northampton, Massachusetts that has planned protests through Thursday, are backing Missouri protesters, some are pushing back.

Hundreds of Yale University alumni, students and faculty members associated with a conservative campus group warned the school's president in a letter that they feared recent protests on its campus over race could limit free speech on campus.

"Some have called for a censure process for hate speech and so-called 'bias reporting,'" read the letter, signed by 700 people affiliated with the Buckley Program.

The letter followed a Tuesday decision by the university's president to expand financial aid to low-income students and create a center for the study of race, ethnicity and "social identity."

Since protests began to proliferate last week, police have made several arrests of men charged with posting messages on social media threatening to kill black students.

Last week three 19-year-old men were charged with making threats on social media about shooting people at college campuses in Missouri, and two of them talked about targeting black people.

Also last week, a 21-year-old man was charged with making threats against black students at Michigan Technological University.

(Additional reporting by Richard Weizel in Milford, Connecticut; Editing by Frank McGurty and Christian Plumb)