The Maneater

Catch up on what you missed regarding Yik Yak threats

Three people have since been arrested in connection with threats on Yik Yak.

Sheer panic: There’s no better way to describe students’ feelings on Nov. 10, a night MU will never forget.

Rumors erupted on social media resulting in constant fear and miscommunication. Students left campus, going as far as driving back hours to their hometowns. Some Wednesday classes were canceled.

And it all started with Yik Yak.

Around 7 p.m. that evening, threats started appearing on the anonymous social media app, inciting campus chaos.

“Some of you are alright,” a “Yak” said, referencing the Oct. 1 Umpqua Community College shooting gunman. “Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”

“I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see,” another “Yak” said.

An MU Alert was sent out at 7:44 p.m. stating that the MU Police Department “increased security” in light of the threats. Student government joint session was adjourned shortly after. MUPD escorted out members, including Missouri Students Association President Payton Head, as a precaution.

Yik Yak wasn’t the only platform on which threats arose that day. Earlier, around 11 a.m., the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center received a phone called that was “perceived” to be a threat, MUPD Maj. Brian Weimer said.

The threats came a day after former UM System President Tim Wolfe and former Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin announced their resignations. Racial tension on campus had been building up to that point.

Not long after the threats were discovered, several false rumors spread, including that the Ku Klux Klan was on campus. Despite these rumors, MU Alert tweeted at 11:19 p.m. that there was no “immediate threat to campus.”

Head perpetuated the rumors by posting on Facebook that the KKK had been confirmed on campus and that he’d been in contact with state troopers and National Guard. He later took down the post and issued an apology.

“I'm sorry about the misinformation that I have shared through social media,” Head wrote. “In a state of alarm, I was concerned for all students of the University of Missouri and wanted to ensure that everyone was safe.”

Although only a few weeks are left in his session, some are calling for Head’s impeachment over the incident.

“#PrayForMizzou” started trending on Twitter, and the threats soon became nationally recognized. The threats resulted in a quiet campus the next day, as many professors cancelled classes with the support of MSA.

Yik Yak co-founder Brooks Buffington released a blog post about the incident, stating that he was “impressed by the strength of the student body during an extremely tough time.”

MUPD arrested 19-year-old Hunter M. Park on Nov. 11 in Rolla in connection to the threats. Park, a Missouri S&T student, is in Boone County Jail denied bond. He was charged with a class C felony for making a terroristic threat and was denied bond in a court appearance last week.

The judge said Park was a danger to the community. Those who knew Parker in high school said he “had a very twisted sense of humor.” Parker will appear in court next at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 18. MUPD has also arrested Northwest Missouri State student Connor Stottlemyre and 19-year-old Tyler Bradenberg from St. Louis for posting threats on Yik Yak. However, Bradenberg’s threats are believed to have been directed at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Interim Chancellor Hank Foley, Provost Garnett Stokes and Chuck Henson, Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, released a statement the next day about the threats. It stated that additional counselors will be available at the Counseling Center, Student Health, and Employee Assistance Program and that “campus-wide events.” will be held.

“We have witnessed our brave students who sacrificed their own needs to do work that should have been done long before they joined our community,” Foley said. “We feel the weight of the world’s eyes upon us. We will not flinch from the work ahead.”

Peter Baugh contributed to this report.

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