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Saturday, December 3, 2016

MUPD increases security following Yik Yak threats

“Some of you are alright,” the first yak said. “Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

Nov. 10, 2015

Updated Feb. 29, 2016 at 8:24 p.m.

Many students were concerned for their safety last night after several threats arose via social media. Police were all over campus investigating the threats.

Yik Yak threats

Severals post on anonymous social media app Yik Yak resulted in the increased police presence on campus.

“Some of you are alright,” the first yak said. “Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

Students immediately starting posting screenshots of the post on social media.

Leaders on campus, including outgoing Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin and the Missouri Students Association, also tweeted to inform the student body.

Other threatening yaks have since surfaced. MU Alert sent out a statement at 7:44 p.m. stating that the MU Police Department “increased security” in response to the threats. Several sorority houses went into lockdown.

“We’re aware of it and we’re looking and trying to identify who it is,” MUPD Maj. Brian Weimer said.

Later, MU Alert tweeted that there was no “immediate threat.”

Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center threat

Weimer said the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center was also possibly threatened Tuesday afternoon. It received a phone call at 11 a.m. while the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus was meeting.

“The person (who answered the phone call) perceived it as a threat,” Weimer said.

MUPD is still investigating the incident.

This wasn’t the first threat to the Center or that MU has seen surface on Yik Yak. Last December, someone posted threats to the Center on Yik Yak.

“Let’s burn down the black culture center & give them a taste of their own medicine,” the yak said.

The individual who posted the yak was never found.

Joint session

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor stood up and announced the threats during an MU student government joint session early Tuesday, then left. Shortly after, members of joint session voted to adjourn and were escorted from Tate Hall by MUPD.

Residence Halls Association Advisor Lucas Gorham said that the police escort was precautionary.

Individual in Speakers Circle

Around 8 p.m., an individual began yelling in Speakers Circle about freedom of the press, but declined to comment. The individual was observed closely by police.

Police in Speaker’s Circle at the time declined to comment. Weimer said that incident was unrelated to the threats.

Rumors of the Ku Klux Klan being on campus

Rumors of the KKK being present on campus arose over social media shortly after the threats.

“There's absolutely nothing to indicate that (the KKK is on campus)," MUPD Maj. Brian Weimer said.

Missouri Students Association President Payton Head posted on Facebook that the KKK had been confirmed on campus.

“I’m working with the MUPD, the state trooper and the National Guard,” Head said in the post.

Shortly after Head deleted the post and posted a new statement:

“I'm sorry about the misinformation that I have shared through social media. In a state of alarm, I was concerned for all students of the University of Missouri and wanted to ensure that everyone was safe,” Head said in the post. “I received and shared information from multiple incorrect sources, which I deeply regret. The last thing needed is to incite more fear in the hearts of our community. In the future, please receive emergency updates from MUalert.missouri.edu or @MUalert on Twitter ONLY.”

Head could not be reached for an interview, but texted a Maneater reporter a similar statement:

“Please follow @MUalert for all OFFICIAL inquiries as to what’s happening,” Head said in the text. “Many rumors are spreading.”

A Missouri State Highway Patrol representative said they do have units on campus now. She has not heard any info regarding whether they're investigating the KKK.

Weimer said he hadn’t been in touch with the investigator of the unit, so he was unsure of whether the The Federal Bureau of Investigation and The National Guard were working with them.

“We may reach out to other agencies,” Weimer said. “They help us a lot … That could, I use the big word could, include the FBI, Highway Patrol, etc. I mean, that’s not unusual.”

Weimer said Head talked to MUPD, but he doesn’t know whether he’d talked to any other agencies. The FBI and National Guard could not be reached for comment.

Hashtag trending

PrayForMizzou circulated on Twitter.

Class Wednesday

MSA sent email to professors demanding them to cancel class Wednesday, following the various threats.

“Due to the nature of threats on campus, we must remain vigilant to protect students first and foremost,” the email read. “There is absolutely no reason to keep classes in session, as ALL STUDENTS lives are at risk.”

Some professors have already canceled Wednesday’s classes. Provost Garnett Stokes said she’s been in constant contact with leaders on campus. She met with administrators, including Loftin and interim Chancellor Hank Foley Tuesday evening, trying to “carefully” decide whether classes should be in session.

“I have to think about whether it’s is in the best interest of the campus to make that decision earlier,” Stokes said of the decision.

Stokes said she was “beginning to wonder” about when the class cancellation decision would be finalized, but the aim was to make an announcement by 6 a.m. Wednesday. She encouraged anyone who doesn’t feel safe on campus to not attend class Wednesday, regardless of whether it’s cancelled.

MU spokesman Christian Basi could not be reached for comment.

Follow The Maneater for updates on this story. Lauren Wortman, Bruno Vernaschi and Quinn Malloy contributed to this report.

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