What Happens If You Are Accused Of Making Racist Threats Online At College Campuses?

Dec 4, 2015 by

Maureen Sullivan –

Three different people who are accused of making racist threats on college campuses faced prosecution this week. One was a homecoming queen. One was a pole vaulter on the track team. And one told the judge that he made a “terrible joke.” Two are black and one is white.

They all face considerable prison time for allegedly making what were supposed to be anonymous postings online.

Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, graduated in May from Kean University in Union, New Jersey, with a degree in physical education. McKelvey, who works as a certified personal trainer, according to her LinkedIn profile, was a homecoming queen in 2014 and president of the Pan African Student Union. Kean, named for the prominent family of former Gov. Tom Kean, is a mainly commuter college of 13,000 undergraduates that has a diverse mix of about one-third white students and 18% black students. It’s not known for its student activism, but McKelvey, who is black, returned to the campus on Nov. 17 to participate in a rally to support protesters at the University of Missouri.

Union County Prosecutor Grace Park says McKelvey stepped away from the student rally that night to go to a computer in a campus library, create a Twitter account, @keanuagainstblk, and post racist tweets that threatened black students on campus.

The nine posts over seven minutes included:

  • I will shoot any black person I see at kean university
  • I will kill all the blacks tonight, tomorrow and any other day if they go to Kean university
  • the cops won’t save you. You’re black #keanuniversity

“After making the posts, McKelvey immediately returned to the rally and attempted to spread awareness of the threats she allegedly had just fabricated,” said the prosecutor’s office in a statement.

A video posted to Twitter the night of the rally shows one of the student organizers saying that only seven or eight people had joined the night-time vigil until tweets started appearing. Then, says the woman, the group swelled to about 60 or 70 people.

McKelvey was given a summons and charged with one count of third-degree creating a false public alarm. She is expected to make her first court appearance on Dec. 14. The prosecutor’s office said its investigation “revealed that there was never any actual plan to harm students.” News reports say that if McKelvey is found guilty, she could face a prison term of up to five years.

In Michigan, Emmanuel Bowden, 21, faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly sending out a message on the social media platform Yik Yak saying, “I’m going to shoot every black person I can on campus. Starting tomorrow morning.” He allegedly followed that up with messages, saying “I’m black” and “Its (sic) a joke,” according to reports on MLive.com.

Source: What Happens If You Are Accused Of Making Racist Threats Online At College Campuses? – Forbes

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