Racial Threat Puts Ohio College on Alert, on Edge

Meghan Barr, Breitbart, January 27, 2010

An attacker could find many places to hide at Hocking College, a campus carved into a forest in the Appalachian foothills. And with the threat of a mass killing looming over black students at the community college, Allen Edwards is steering clear of the trees.

“I don’t feel too safe walking by the woods,” said Edwards, a 19-year-old black student from Canton. “There’s woods everywhere. And somebody could be out in them, and I don’t know.”

The FBI is investigating a threat scrawled last week on a bathroom wall warning that black students would be killed Feb. 2. It bore the trademarks of just another casual–though chilling–threat of violence on a college campus, but students here aren’t taking any chances.

At least two black students have withdrawn permanently from school out of fear for their safety, and another dozen have moved out of the dorm where the threat was found, officials at the two-year technical college said. {snip}

The school confirmed Tuesday that the threat said black students would be killed Feb. 2. At least one subsequent note reading “kill the n——” was reported.

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The college has provided temporary housing for students who are too scared to stay in Hocking Heights, the dorm where the threats were found. And for those wary of venturing outside until after Feb. 2, teachers are making allowances for missed classwork.

Since the first threat was discovered Friday, the school has installed more security cameras in dorms and beefed up foot patrols. A $5,000 reward is being offered, and extra counselors are on hand.

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Edwards said he has seen racist comments written on the same bathroom wall in the past but didn’t let it bother him. But two days after the first threat was found, he saw the second on the bathroom wall and reported it to campus police.

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Another resident of the second floor, Amelinda Marengo, sat on her bed and said that even though the threat doesn’t include her, she is still afraid.

Marengo, who is half Puerto Rican, said she and her black roommate endured racist taunts in the cafeteria on several occasions last year. Her roommate declined to be interviewed.

“We’d be sitting at a lunch table and some guys would be sitting across the room, and they’d be screaming, like, ‘n—– lover’ across the table,” Marengo said. “I had enough of it one day and I got up and I just started yelling at them and telling them, like, ‘There is no reason for you to treat someone like that.'”

About a year ago, Marengo said, a male friend led her into the second-floor men’s bathroom and showed her racist comments on the wall, including a drawing of what she called a “hangman.”

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But the threat at Hocking, with its racially tense environment, is sending ripples through the area. Students and faculty members at Ohio University in nearby Athens are also on alert. Short of stationing police officers in the woods–which Hocking lacks the manpower to do–officials there say vigilance remains the best defense.

Students rushed to classes Tuesday as an icy wind blew snow flurries through the trees. Disturbing rumors floated, including a claim–later determined to be false–that nooses had been found in the woods. {snip}

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