ATLANTA – Someone or someones thought it would be appropriate to mark the beginning of Black History Month with making bomb threats two days a row to Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) around the nation including three Georgia institutions.
On the second day, Tuesday calls were made in the early morning to Spelman College in Atlanta and Fort Valley State College in south Georgia.
The day before a calls were made to Albany State College in southwest Georgia, Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Bowie State University in Maryland, Howard University in Washington, D.C., Delaware State University, and Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Florida.
After a thorough search of the campuses by local and federal authorities, fortunately no explosive devices were found, but the calls did disrupt normal college activities at least for a day.
Authorities in each state along with the FBI say there will be a thorough investigation to find the perpetrator(s).
Atlanta police working with Spelman campus police have increased patrols on and around the campus. The college gave the all-clear signal by 11 a.m. Tuesday.
President Mary Schmidt Campbell issued a statement Tuesday, saying, in part:
“These threats are despicable. They are designed to make us feel fearful and vulnerable. I write now to let you know what additional steps the College is taking to ensure the safety of the Spelman community and our neighbors in the Atlanta University Center Consortium.”
Campbell said said she spoke to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, who said he would ask the FBI to investigate the threats.Gov. Brian Kemp also released a statement Tuesday, saying, “Whether it’s an HBCU or not, no campus should be going through those types of things, and if we find the people who did this, we are going to bring them justice.”
Georgia U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath tweeted: “As we celebrate the first day of Black History Month, there are again those with hate in their heart who seek to sow hatred and division. Students across the country are at these HBCUs to work hard and create opportunities for themselves. As a proud HBCU graduate, my thoughts are with all those dealing with these threats of violence. No student should ever have to live or learn in fear.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the threats “are certainly disturbing and the White House is in touch with the interagency partners, including federal law enforcement leadership on this.”
“We’re relieved to hear that Howard and Bethune-Cookman universities have been given the all-clear and will continue to monitor these reports,”Psaki said, adding that President Joe Biden is aware of the threats. Monday’s bomb scares came one day before the start of Black History Month and less than a month after a series of bomb threats were made to multiple historically Black universities on Jan. 4.
“We are deeply disturbed by a second round of bomb threats at HBCU campuses within a month,” leaders of the Congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus said in a statement Monday.”
Learning is one of the most noble and most human pursuits, and schools are sacred places that should always be free from terror,” it said. “Solving these crimes and bringing those responsible to justice should be a top priority for federal law enforcement.”
The statement was issued by Democratic U.S. Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina and Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill of Arkansas, who are co-chairs of the caucus.
This article contains reporting from Stan Washington of The Atlanta Voice and Jeff Martin The Associated Press.