Federal law enforcement officials have narrowed the list of suspects in the threats made to historically black colleges to six juveniles, the Associated Press reports. Since early January, more than a third of the nation''s 101 historically black colleges and universities have received bomb threats by phone or email. Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the threats as hate crimes. On Thursday, FBI officials spoke to the House Oversight Committee, calling the case their "highest priority." The Biden administration has mobilized the Education Department to give the colleges guidance on navigating threats while Vice President Harris said they are eligible for grants intended for schools recovering from violence.
While no explosives have been found in connection with the attacks, the threats have taken their toll on students, some of whom have been awakened during the night with news of lockdowns or evacuations. Some students have been afraid to attend classes and cases of students seeking mental health services have risen.. Howard University gave faculty and students a day off after the second threat received by the school. It has since received two more. The single worst day was February 1, the beginning of Black History Month, when 18 colleges were threatened. The most recent came on Monday, when Morehouse was forced to lock down its campus in response to a threat. Oversight Committee members noted that these cannot be seen as idle threats given the history of bombs being used to kill Black people. Some lawmakers harkened back to the bombs that killed four Black girls in Alabama in 1963 while others pointed out that two pipe bombs were detonated on the campus of Florida A&M, an HBCU, in 1999. Lawmakers expressed frustration that no arrests have been made, but the FBI said that 31 of its field offices as well as its cyber crimes division are working on the case. The House passed a resolution condemning the threats last week. Democrats say that more must be done, including increasing HBCU funding for security and infrastructure.