Charlottesville schools close after online threat of 'ethnic cleansing' at high school
© Getty Images

Schools in Charlottesville, Va., closed Thursday and will remain closed on Friday after being made aware of an anonymous online post threatening an "ethnic cleansing" in the form of a shooting at Charlottesville High School.

The Charlottesville City School District closed all schools Thursday after police received an email on Wednesday from a “concerned citizen” regarding the possible threat, according to a police statement.

The post threatened an “ethnic cleansing” at the school the next day and allegedly encouraged white students to stay home from school, according to The Daily Progress.

The district announced late Thursday that schools would remain closed Friday while state and federal authorities continue the “active” investigation.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We would like to acknowledge and condemn the fact that this threat was racially charged. We do not tolerate hate or racism,” the Charlottesville City School District's statement said. “The entire staff and School Board stand in solidarity with our students of color — and with people who have been singled out for reasons such as religion or ethnicity or sexual identity in other vile threats made across the country or around the world. We are in this together, and a threat against one is a threat against all.”

The original threat was reportedly posted on the sites 4chan and 8chan, and a screenshot of the post later circulated on Reddit, according to the newspaper. Investigators are working to identify the original poster, who claims to be a Charlottesville student, the paper reported.

The anonymous sites are frequently used by white supremacists and were banned in New Zealand last week after the sites circulated video of the deadly shootings at two Christchurch mosques, NPR reported

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the threat in a statement and called on tech companies to better monitor extremists online.

“Less than a week after the horrific attack in New Zealand, we are again reminded of the danger social media poses as a forum for extremists and their calls for violence. The threats of ‘ethnic cleansing’ directed at Charlottesville High School via 4chan are a frightening development for a city that is still healing from the traumatic and lingering experience of the deadly Unite the Right rallies in 2017—which were also, in part, emboldened by the use of social media.,” Washington, D.C., regional director Doron Ezickson said in a statement.

“Social media companies must take responsibility for the role that their platforms have played in elevating extremism, and ADL continues to call upon tech CEOs to join the fight against hate, and decisively act to combat the scourge of extremism online.”

Charlottesville police spokesman Tyler Hawn said the police department and school division jointly decided to close as a safety precaution.

“Again, the safety of our student and students is our first priority,” the division wrote in an email, according to the newspaper.

Updated 6:43 p.m.