By Laila Kearney
(Reuters) - A woman who joined protests at New Jersey's Kean University over racial conditions on college campuses has been charged with fabricating violent threats against black students in social media postings last month, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, was charged with third-degree creating a false public alarm with the postings, which led to heightened campus security and criticism of school leaders for failing to protect students, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
McKelvey, a former Kean student from Union Township, New Jersey, attended a Nov. 17 demonstration at the school to raise awareness about racism at U.S. colleges, prosecutors said. She is accused of sneaking away to a campus computer lab midway through the protest and posting messages on Twitter.
"I will shoot every black woman and male I see at Kean University," read one of the messages McKelvey is accused of posting on Twitter with the username @keanuagainstblk.
After sending the messages, McKelvey returned to the protest and "attempted to spread awareness of the threats she allegedly had just fabricated," prosecutors said.
Kean University police said they alerted federal, state and local law enforcement and provided extra security, but the school in Union, about 10 miles southwest of Newark, remained open.
After the protest, a coalition of black ministers called for the resignation of Kean's president, Dawood Farahi, who they said failed to protect students by conducting business as usual after the threats were made.
A Linked In account under McKelvey's name describes her as a past president of Kean's Pan African Student Union and a former homecoming queen at the school.
Kean is one of many universities where students staged demonstrations and walkouts last month in sympathy with students at the University of Missouri, where the school president resigned after protests over his handling of on-campus racial issues.
Shortly after the protests proliferated, several men across the country were charged with making actual threats on social media to kill black students.
Included were three 19-year-old men charged with threatening to shoot people at college campuses in Missouri. Two of them talked about targeting blacks, police said
A 21-year-old man was also charged with making threats against black students at Michigan Technological University.
McKelvey's first court appearance has been scheduled for Dec. 14.
(Reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney)