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University Of Missouri Tightens Security After Social Media Threats

The student government called for classes to be canceled.

The University of Missouri on Tuesday increased campus security following threats of violence in the wake of protests that triggered the ouster of two top university leaders. Some of the threats were considered serious enough to prompt a lockdown and a call to cancel classes.

A threat was called in to the school's Black Culture Center on Tuesday as students were working with representatives from the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus to improve campus diversity policies, prompting a lockdown. Several anonymous threats were posted to the anonymous social media messaging site Yik Yak, which is popular on school campuses.

One user threatened to "shoot every black person I see." Another echoed the ominous message posted ahead of the Umpqua Community College shooting last month in Oregon that killed 10 people. 

Campus police and state Highway Patrol cars were seen on the campus in Columbia Tuesday night, CBS News reported. A university police official told HuffPost it was investigating the threats.

Tensions have been high at Mizzou following protests of university officials' handling of on-campus racism. Demonstrations climaxed over the weekend, when 30 black football players threatened to sit out their next game unless university President Tim Wolfe resigned. Wolfe announced his departure on Monday. Hours later, Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin said he would step down.

The subsequent media storm has stirred further protests, with students urging journalists to leave to allow the fractured community to heal. One viral moment captured a communications professor grabbing at a reporter's camera before calling for some "muscle" to remove him from a public space.

The university said Tuesday the threats pose no immediate danger to the campus. The school said on Twitter that it would activate its alert system in the event of an actual emergency. "Please don't spread rumors," the school admonished.

The threats prompted the undergraduate student government to call for classes to be canceled on Wednesday.

"Holding classes puts all students at a level of high risk and danger," an email sent to administrators and tweeted by the group reads. "If you do not, we will tell all students ourselves to stay home."

Yik Yak works with law enforcement on potential threats and often helps police identify users who post threats.

"Yik Yak cooperates with law enforcement and works alongside local authorities to help with investigations," Hilary McQuaide, a spokeswoman for Yik Yak, said. "We may provide information without a subpoena, warrant or court order when a post poses a risk of imminent harm."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the location of Umpqua Community College as Washington. It is located in Roseburg, Oregon.

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