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Missouri University police arrest 19-year-old Hunter Park over threat to ‘shoot every black person I see’

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University of Missouri police on Wednesday arrested a 19-year-old white man on suspicion of making what it called a “terrorist threat” on social media to shoot black people.

Police identified the suspect as Hunter M. Park from Rolla, Missouri, about 95 miles (150 km) south of the Columbia campus of the University of Missouri. He was not a student, they added.

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Tensions are running high on the Columbia campus after the university’s president and chancellor stepped down on Monday, following weeks of protests over their perceived weak handling of reports of racial abuse on campus.

The police said the suspect’s threats had circulated on social media, including Yik Yak, where a posting tagged ‘Columbia’ on Tuesday read: “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see.”

Yik Yak is an anonymous social media application that allows users to create and view posts within a five-mile radius.

Police said they arrested Park at about 1:50 a.m. local time (0650 GMT) under Missouri law which prohibits communication of a life-endangering threat to at least 10 people. He was transported to Columbia and is being held at the Boone County Jail on $4,500 bond.

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On Twitter on Wednesday morning, the hashtag #PrayForMizzou was trending in the United States and postings highlighted the anonymous threat on Yik Yak. ‘Mizzou’ is the colloquial name for the University of Missouri.

Yik Yak spokeswoman Hilary McQuaide said the company had worked with police to identify Park saying the company may do so “when a post poses a risk of imminent harm.”

Despite a heavier-than-normal police presence on campus, a few students decided to return home because they felt unsafe, students told Reuters.

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University authorities said classes were operating on schedule. However, some professors, acting individually, canceled classes. Other teachers had given students the option of not attending classes if they felt unsafe.

On other U.S. campuses, peaceful marches or walkouts have been held this week, or are planned, over what some demonstrators see as soft handling of reports of racial abuse on campuses.

Soon after Missouri president Tim Wolfe announced he would step down on Monday, a crowd of more than 1,000 gathered peacefully at the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, for a “March of Resilience,” in solidarity with Missouri.

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The crowd sang and chanted for an end to racism on campus. The issue has been in focus at Yale after a fraternity turned away black guests at a Halloween party, saying, according to reports at the time, that only white women would be admitted.

A walkout is also planned at Ithaca College, a private school in upstate New York.

A student group called People of Color at Ithaca College announced on its Facebook page it was planning an on-campus ‘Solidarity Walk Out’ at 1:30 p.m. (1830 GMT) on Wednesday and demanded the resignation of Ithaca president Tom Rochon.

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Students at Smith College, a women’s private school in Massachusetts, plan a similar walkout for midday on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting by Shawn Shinneman in Columbia, Missouri, Barbara Goldberg and Angela Moon in New York, and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by W Simon; Editing by Alden Bentley and Bill Rigby)

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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