By Lauren Rearick
For the second day in a row, students attending Charlottesville City Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia, were not able to attend classes on Friday, March 22. The school district closed its schools starting on Thursday, March 21, citing an anonymous online threat they said was “racially-charged” in nature. A 17-year-old who reportedly was not enrolled in the Charlottesville district has since been arrested and charged in relation to the threat.
On Wednesday, a 4chan post was discovered that threatened violence against black and minority students attending Charlottesville High School, NBC News reported. The post, which was sent to authorities by a community member, led to an investigation into the online threat. A press release from the Charlottesville police department later confirmed local authorities were working with the superintendent of schools, the Virginia State Police, and the FBI.
Following the discovery of the threat, the district and police announced on Wednesday evening that classes would be cancelled at all Charlottesville City Schools on Thursday. Following Thursday’s cancellation, the district again cancelled classes on Friday, citing their ongoing investigation.
The 17-year-old was not named by authorities given their status as a minor, but was identified as a resident of Albemarle County, which is about 250 miles away from Charlottesville. They face a felony charge of threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property and a misdemeanor charge of harassment by computer, per NBC News.
In a Facebook post, Charlottesville City Schools addressed the racist nature of the online comments, writing, “We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged. We do not tolerate hate or racism. The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color — and with people who have been singled out for reasons such as religion or ethnicity or sexual identity in other vile threats made across the country or around the world. We are in this together, and a threat against one is a threat against all.”
News of the threat made against the school comes nearly two years after a white-nationalist rally was held in Charlottesville. The August 2017 event led to 19 injuries and one death when an assailant drove his car into counter-protestors at the event, CNN reports. In December 2018, the attacker was found guilty on several counts, including first-degree murder for the death of Heather Heyer.
According to the Richmond-Times Dispatch, Rosa Atkins, Charlottesville schools superintendent, said that when the schools do open again, they want to ensure that students, faculty, and staff “feel healthy and feel safe.” Per NBC, schools in Charlottesville are slated to resume on Monday, March 25.
In a statement to MTV News, Krissy Vick, community relations liaison for Charlottesville City Schools said the district “will continue to update the web when we announce anything additional.”