On both Monday and Tuesday, more than 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities reported bomb threats that caused the schools to go on immediate lockdowns and shift to remote classes.
Grambling State University was not one of those universities that received a threat, but that didn’t stop GSU to act proactively to ensure the safety of its students, faculty and staff.
On Tuesday, the GSU Police Department, the Louisiana State Police and a K-9 officer capable of detecting bombs walked through campus with the dog working to sniff out and find any explosives.
GSU also issued a Facebook post on Tuesday that read, “While Grambling State University was not the target of either bomb threat instance, vigilance will persist from all entities to ensure campus safety.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Grambling State has partnered with external entities to perform safety sweeps today on campus and internally within an area of select buildings.”
The post ended with a request for anyone seeing or hearing anything suspicious to contact GSU police at 274-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Louisiana HBCUs were included in Tuesday’s threats, including Southern and Xavier of New Orleans.
According to The Guardian, CNN, and the Washington Post, other schools receiving threats on the last day of January or the first day of February, which marked the beginning of Black History Month, were: Howard University (twice), Bethune-Cookman University, Albany State University, Bowie State University, Delaware State University, Rust College, Coppin State University, Jackson State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Morgan State University, Alcorn State University, Tougaloo College, Kentucky State University, Fort Valley State University, Spelman College, University of D.C., Edward Waters University, Harris-Stowe State University and Philander Smith College.
The threats are being labeled as targeted hate crimes that have seemed to take up a pattern. Howard University, according to the Washington Post, has been threatened three times over the past month. Although there were numerous calls, no bombs were detected on any of the school’s properties.
All 21 schools receiving threats took immediate action, canceling in-person classes and shifting to remote classes.
No evidence of bombs was found, and schools and authorities turned their attention to trying to find out who made the threats. NBC News reported on Wednesday that six "tech savvy" juveniles have been identified as persons of interest by the FBI in the threats.
According to Buzzfeed, another group of suspects were thought to be a neo-Nazi organization by the name of “Atomwaffen” were the ones who targeted Bethune-Cookman.
InsideHigherEd.com reported that the FBI issued a statement saying that more than 20 FBI field offices across the country are involved in the investigation of the bomb threats.
“These threats are being investigated as Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremism and hate crimes,” the statement read. “Although at this time no explosive devices have been found at any of the locations, the FBI takes all threats with the utmost seriousness and we are committed to thoroughly and aggressively investigating these threats.”
The American Association of Colleges and Universities also issued a statement in response to the threats.
“As we begin this Black History Month, we do so in the context of a fresh reminder of the racist terror against which so many whose contributions and achievements we celebrate had to struggle,” read that statement, which also noted that “the specific targeting of HBCUs comes amid a sharp and ongoing increase in racially motivated hate crimes across the United States.
“While the bomb threats have so far not proven credible, they nonetheless disrupt campus life; spread fear and anxiety among students, faculty, and staff; and strain campus and community resources,” the statement said. “The American Association of Colleges and Universities condemns in the strongest possible terms these attempts to terrorize our students, and we support our HBCU colleagues.”
While Grambling State was not included in the recent threats, GSU did receive a bomb threat targeting Grambling Hall on Nov. 28, 2018, with police evacuated that building and surrounding areas and conducting a thorough search before issuing an all clear.