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HBCU Student Leaders Meet for Congressional Hearing on Bomb Threat

Black student leaders gave emotional testimony before Congress on Thursday about the recent wave of bomb threats that has historically afflicted black colleges and universities.

An FBI official said at Thursday’s hearing that authorities had “narrowed” the list of people of interest — and believed a minor was responsible for most of the threats — but Black students still feel insecure about their safety.

“We have to stay proactive,” emphasizes Thomas K. Hudson of Jackson State University.

Three student representatives from schools targeted by bomb threats spoke before the House Oversight Committee, detailing the cultural pride they have in their HBCUs. But they were let down by the events of the past year — and specifically Black History Month 2022, which saw a dramatic increase in threats against academic institutions.

“When stubborn cowards, cowards began to issue violent bomb threats against Howard University and dozens of other HBCUs in early 2022, it was clear their intention was to tear down the the sacred five-color block of Black excellence,” Howard University Student Union President Kylie Burke told lawmakers. “Unmistakably, the highest concentration of these threats came on the first day of Black History Month.”

Emmanuel Ukot, president of the Student Government Association at Xavier University, Louisiana, said the threats are “particularly painful” because HBCU students are “developing themselves to make a positive impact” in our community in the long run.”

“Racial violence against HBCUs is a multi-generational event that has profound effects on the Black community. My family and I are examples of this multigenerational trauma,” Devan M. Vilfrard, associate justice of the Student Supreme Court at Florida A&M University, told the panel. “Black colleges and universities have historically been a longstanding symbol of support and a pathway to success for Black communities across our country for generations and will continue to do so. continue to provide this for generations to come.”

The FBI’s executive assistant director of intelligence, Ryan Young, sought to assure students that investigating bomb threats remained one of the agency’s highest priorities.

Young admitted the FBI had narrowed down the list of suspects, suggesting that the person believed to be responsible for most of the cases was a minor. But he would not provide further information about the person’s position and motives, and whether they acted alone.

“The FBI recognizes that hate crimes remain a concern for communities across the country and collects mandatory reporting from federal law enforcement agencies,” Young said. “Reporting remains voluntary for state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. The FBI has obnoxious crime statistics. … In addition, the FBI established a multicultural engagement panel made up of ethnic, religious, and minority leaders to better understand and deliver solutions to these communities. ”

When asked by many lawmakers for exact figures on how often hate crimes occur in HBCUs compared to other educational institutions, Young was unable to answer.

Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD), chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said there has been a 50% increase in hate crimes against black Americans between 2019 and 2020. He also noted that 36 HBCUs have received more than 50 threats since the beginning of 2022. One such incident included a 20-minute phone call to Bethune-Cookman College in Florida. from a man who claimed to be part of a neo-Nazi organization.

While most members of Congress at the hearing focused on the safety of HBCUs, some Republican lawmakers used it as an opportunity to denounce the “Destroy” campaign supporters. destroy the police”.

Representative Fred Keller (R-PA) began his speech addressing the current crisis in Ukraine, saying that the US “cannot advocate for international peace without addressing the violence within our borders”. I”.

“Violence on any level is unacceptable,” he said.

Then he went in a different direction.

“What impact do you think bringing down the police will have on the already high crime rate?” he asked Young.

After Young said the FBI did not have accurate and consistent data from local governments that affected relationships and resource usage in those communities, Keller suggested that most people support the arrest of black police officers.

Keller is not alone in his feelings.

Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) talks about her own college experience and how she received threats as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. After completing her presentation, she questioned campus security and how the federal government was responding, and pointed out that Black communities would be hardest hit from the move. embarrass the police.

Despite those minor political distractions — and the terrifying threats they’ve endured — the students remain optimistic about their future at HBCU and celebrate Black culture.

“We still celebrate Black History Month,” Ukot said later in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I also think it ignited anew for the students why it is so important to recognize the importance of HBCU and our contribution to society.”

“I have never had a conversation or seen one there [the threats] Burke said. “If there’s something, I think it’s connected us and unites us because we’re all facing the same circumstances.”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/hbcu-student-leaders-meet-for-congressional-hearing-on-bomb-threats?source=articles&via=rss HBCU Student Leaders Meet for Congressional Hearing on Bomb Threat

Russell Falcon

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