Threats of violence on Yik Yak rattle University of Missouri

Racial tensions running high at Mizzou amid protests

Two white students at two Missouri colleges were arrested for threatening black people on Yik Yak as police at the University of Missouri flagship campus increased security on Wednesday.

Racial tensions have been high at the University of Missouri (Mizzou), as a student protest movement continues to put pressure on administrators for their response to several racist incidents on the campus. 

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On Tuesday, some students reported threats of violence being made against black students on social media—including the anonymous social media app Yik Yak. Those reports were followed by two arrests on Wednesday for making terroristic threats.

Northwest Missouri State University student Connor Stottlemyre, 19, was arrested by that university's police force after he allegedly posted a message to Yik Yak that read, "I'm gonna shoot any black people tomorrow, so be ready," according to a university spokesperson.

Meanwhile, Hunter Park, 19, a student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, was arrested for threats made on Yik Yak, according to a release from the University of Missouri Police Department (UMPD). He was taken into custody at a dorm room on campus.

No weapons were found during the investigation of Park's room.

How campus police use Yik Yak to solve crime

In a separate incident, attendees at meeting between student activists and the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus at Mizzou's Black Culture Center say a threat was called in to the center on Tuesday morning. UMPD said the treat was being investigated.

Increased security

The threats created anxiety at Mizzou on Tuesday and Wednesday, with some student groups choosing to cancel events. The School's Army ROTC program also asked its students to dress in civilian clothes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In an email to students, UMPD asked the community to report any "hateful and/or hurtful" speech. Mizzou Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin—who will resign in January—tweeted that classes will continue "with increased security."

Brooks Buffington, Yik Yak's co-founder and CEO, released a statement saying the threats of violence were "both upsetting and completely unacceptable" (Thomason, "The Ticker," Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/11; Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 11/11; Missourian, 11/11; Stanglin/Alcindor, USA Today, 11/11).

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