University of La Verne cancels class amid threats of violence against students

LA VERNE, Calif. (KABC) -- University of La Verne canceled classes on Friday after the school reported that two threats of violence were made against its students.

On Thursday, a student contacted school officials to report a hate crime that involved racially based threats of violence sent via social media, school officials said.

The social media messages included a photo showing a group of students and derogatory language and racial epithets were directed at the students in the photo, according to the school.

The school said it immediately initiated an investigation and alerted the La Verne Police Department.

The students who were targeted by the suspected crime said that items in a vehicle were set on fire Friday morning. The car remained undamaged, but the items inside were charred.

It's unclear how someone got into the vehicle. The group who were targeted are students who've been critical of the university.

Last week, the students held a demonstration calling out the university administration on what they said is systemic racism and gender inequality.

In the threats, the suspect alludes to the protests and demands the group stop. One of the victims, who did not want to show her face on camera, talked about the messages.

"So the Instagram messages were directed at two students - one student is an African-American student and the other is a Mexican-American student. The poster basically had derogatory comments, saying the N word, saying that they're going to come and get students. There was a picture of other students of color and they are being threatened, too," she said.

The university released the following statement about the incident:

"Over the past two days, the University of La Verne has received two reports of heinous acts targeted at members of our student body. These actions are despicable and are an affront to our values as a university. This is a critical moment for us to declare that we will not tolerate this type of behavior. In acknowledgement of these incidents and in support of our students, the University of La Verne will cancel all afternoon and evening classes on the La Verne campus today, Friday, March 1, effective at noon. The pause will also allow the university to assess this evolving situation and continue to cooperate with law enforcement in ongoing criminal investigations. The university's administrative services and offices will remain open."

The school said psychological services will be available for students. The counseling office can be reached at (909) 448-4105.

University officials were working with police regarding the threats and arson.

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