An African-American Kean University graduate has been charged by authorities with allegedly making fake Twitter death threats against black students on the campus in the midst of anti-racism protests last month.
Officials increased security on the campus following the threats, which prompted calls for Dawood Farahi, the university president, to resign because of perceived racial tensions at the educational institution. The school stayed open after the disturbing tweets surfaced, however, but some students opted to stay home.
The Kean University day-long rally was intended to show solidarity with other social justice protests going on at colleges elsewhere in the country at the time, such as at the University of Missouri, the Inquisitr previously explained.
Using the Twitter handle @keanuagainstblk, the suspect allegedly threatened “to kill all backs tonight, tomorrow and any other day if they go to Kean University.”
The suspect, activist Kayla-Simone McKelvey, graduated with a degree in physical education in May 2015.
“She was also the school’s 2014 homecoming queen and president of the Pan African Student Union, according to her profile,” NJ.com reported.
Prosecutors have charged McKelvey with making a false public alarm, which has a maximum penalty of five years behind bars. She is due in court on December 14.
The Associated Press summarized what happened on the campus located in Union, New Jersey.
“McKelvey, 24, participated in a Nov. 17 rally on racial issues at Kean and then went to a campus library computer and posted anonymous threats on Twitter against black students, the Union County prosecutor’s office said. Investigators said McKelvey then returned to the rally and tried to raise awareness about the threats. The rally came in the wake of racial unrest at the University of Missouri and other college campuses.”
A subsequent threat assessment determined that there was no real security issue arising from the alarming tweets, but President Farahi “withheld that information for fear of compromising the investigation,” the New York Times reported.
In a separate incident that occurred around the same time, someone allegedly posted a threat on the social media site Yik Yak “to shoot every black person I can on campus” at Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State University.
After an investigation, police charged a black Delta College student who lives in a Saginaw Valley dorm with the felony of making a false report or threat of terrorism, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail upon a conviction, MLive reported. The suspect, 19, allegedly posted a follow-up message admitting that he was joking and that “I was going to give it an hour to see how you all would react.” He was also arrested on an unrelated warrant.
Although these may be anomalous, out-of-the-norm situations, a hoax also occurred in the Bridgeport, Connecticut, police department.
“A former Bridgeport police officer who claimed someone left a racist memo on police letterhead in his mailbox at headquarters in February admitted to writing the letter himself and has been charged with filing a false report, according to police,” NBC Connecticutreported this week.
Responding to the charge against the Kean University alum for allegedly making the Twitter death threats during the campus demonstration, President Farahi issued a statement.
“We are saddened to learn that the person allegedly responsible was an active participant in the rally that took place on campus on Tuesday, November 17 and is a former student of Kean. As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others…”
[Kean University image via Zeete | Wikimedia Commons | cropped and resized| (CC BY-SA 4.0)]