Washington state college student arrested for online threat to ‘lynch’ black classmate
Police have arrested a white student from a Washington state university suspected of posting a racist threat toward a peer on the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak, officials said on Tuesday.
The arrest comes amid heightened tensions on U.S. colleges over allegations of racism on campus as well as violent threats made against black students.
Tysen Campbell, a 19-year-old student at Western Washington University, was arrested by campus police on Monday on suspicion of felony malicious harassment over the threat posted last week, the university said in a statement.
University spokesman Paul Cocke said on Tuesday that Campbell wrote “let’s lynch her,” referring to another student, but said he could not provide further information.
Authorities were investigating other online messages targeting the university community, Cocke said.
The school said Campbell was suspended and barred from campus pending the outcomes of the legal proceedings and an investigation by the university. The school said police obtained a search warrant and worked with Yik Yak to track down the source of the threat.
A court commissioner in Whatcom County set bail at $10,000 on Tuesday and said Campbell was due to be arraigned on Dec. 11, courtroom video showed.
Campbell was freed on Tuesday evening after paying bail or bond, jail records show.
An attorney representing Campbell declined to comment.
Cocke said authorities are investigating other “disturbing” messages targeting students of color that were posted online recently, but declined to elaborate. The FBI has also helped with the investigation, the school said.
Classes were canceled last Tuesday at the university in Bellingham, some 90 miles north of Seattle, after officials found the hateful online messages.
Demonstrations against racism at college campuses across the United States, many linked with the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement, have gained momentum since student rallies led to the ouster of the president of the University of Missouri last month.
There has also been a spate of harassment and attacks. Online threats have targeted black students in Michigan, Missouri and Washington, D.C., and Oregon police are investigating unrelated assaults of a black student and a transgender student.
Black protesters were also targeted by white suspects off college campuses last month at a Minneapolis rally against police violence that ended with five demonstrators being shot.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Writing and additional reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Andrew Hay and Leslie Adler)
Watch a report on Campbell’s arrest, as aired on KIRO-TV, below.