Washington, D.C. — Yesterday, Congresswoman Lucy McBath (GA06) joined Congressman Ted W. Lieu (CA33), Congresswoman Alma Adams, Ph.D. (NC12), and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX18) in signing a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting updates on the ongoing bomb threats made against Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Since January 5th, 2022, there has been a wave of bomb threats made against HBCUs, including 14 on February 1st, the first day of Black History Month. To date, more than one-third of the 101 institutions recognized as HBCUs have received bomb threats. McBath is herself an alumna of Virginia State University, the first fully supported, four-year institution for African Americans in the United States. She and her colleagues are requesting information on any developments in the DOJ and FBI’s investigation as no known arrests have been made.
In the letter, the Members write:
Dear Attorney General Garland and Director Wray:
Thank you for your service. We write to request continued updates and prioritization of the ongoing bomb threats made against Historically Black Colleges and Universities ("HBCUs") from the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") and the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI").
Beginning on January 5, at least eight HBCUs, including Howard University, Spelman College, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Prairie View A&M University, reported receiving bomb threats. Weeks later, on January 31, at least six additional HBCUs, including Bowie State University and Southern A&M University, reported receiving threats. Again, on February 1, the first day of Black History Month, at least fourteen HBCUs reported receiving bomb threats. Since the waves of bomb threats began, several HBCUs, such as Howard University and Spelman College, have been subjected to multiple threats. To date, more than one-third of the 101 institutions recognized as HBCUs have received bomb threats.
Historically, African Americans have been subjected to and been the victims of domestic terrorism in settings that are traditionally regarded as safe spaces, such as academic institutions and places of worship. Given the unique history of inequality, structural racism, and violent extremism toward African Americans in our country, the ongoing bomb threats must be taken seriously.
On March 1, the FBI held an unclassified briefing for Members of Congress and their staff to provide an update on its investigation into the nationwide bomb threats targeting HBCUs and faith-based houses of worship. While we appreciate the updates that federal law enforcement and other interested agencies provided, numerous questions remain that have yet to be answered.
In early February, the FBI reportedly identified six juvenile suspects in conjunction with the bomb threats. Since that time, the FBI has made no known arrests. The lack of arrests is alarming and unsettling because the bomb threats remain ongoing.
As Members of Congress, we cannot take these ongoing threats lightly. It pained us to have to recount history's dark past during Black History Month—which is traditionally regarded as a time of celebration. However, we could not ignore the disturbances, fear, and trauma these ongoing threats have caused faculty, students, parents, and alumni of HBCUs.
We understand that you must protect the integrity of your investigation. However, we respectfully request that you continue to regularly update Members of Congress on any developments in this matter either in writing or in an unclassified or classified briefing.
Thank you in advance for your attention to this critical matter. We appreciate your work and are willing and able to provide any support or assistance you may need. Please confirm receipt of this letter.