Fear over racism grips Mizzou campus, sparks #PrayForMizzou and #BlackOnCampus

Just two two nights after University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned amid student protests and a faculty walk-out, the campus was shaken again.

It began with a slew of threats posted last night to Yik Yak — an anonymous messaging app that’s gained popularity on college campuses across the country. The threats were directed at the university’s black population.

“I’m going to stand my ground and shoot every black person I see,” read one. “Don’t go to campus tomorrow,” read another.

The university has apprehended the suspect who issued the threats, but not before fear had apprehended Mizzou’s student body.

At roughly the same time, one student sent a series of tweets that a pick-up truck full of white men was circling campus and shouting threats at students. Another tweeted a video of the truck in question.

https://twitter.com/mariehaileyy/status/664266052654657536
https://twitter.com/mariehaileyy/status/664267185032794112

Rumors started circulating that the KKK had arrived. Those proved false, but not before several on campus, including University of Missouri Student Body President Payton Head cautioned against the white supremacist group.

I'm sorry about the misinformation that I have shared through social media. In a state of alarm, I was concerned for all…

Posted by Payton Head on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

By 1 a.m. EST, #PrayforMizzou was trending on Twitter, as the university tried to decipher fact from fiction while students continued to voice their fear.

One professor told his students that class would be cancelled today amid that fear, and acknowledged the presence of racism at the university.

“By holding class at our regular time, I would be forcing my students who do and probably should feel threatened to implicitly disobey me in order to protect their lives by not attending my class,” he wrote to them.

Here is the letter I just sent my students. I'm posting it because I want others in my position to consider doing the…

Posted by Bradley Harrison Smith on Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Another professor told students that he would still issue a test, despite concern of campus safety.

“If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class. I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class,” he wrote in one email.

Those email exchanges quickly went viral last night, and rumors circulated today that the professor has since resigned. A university spokesperson has confirmed that the professor is still employed with the university.

Now, Concerned Student 1950 — the group who organized the protests — Jonathan Butler — the student who went on a one-week hunger strike for Wolfe’s resignation — and others outraged by the university’s response to the potential of danger are calling on Mizzou alums and students to share their stories of racism on Twitter.

The university has since issued this statement on their alert system:

“Mizzou leadership hears your concerns and condemns threats made against our community. We want you to know we’re here and are focused on your safety and well-being. We’re working as a team to continue to move forward as a stronger community.”

Support PBS NewsHour: