Threats over Black Lives Matter mural prompt lockdown at campus in North Carolina

“We remain fully committed to our University values of diversity, equity and inclusion,” the chancellor of the University of North Carolina Asheville said. “Black Lives Matter.”

Oct. 11, 2020, 5:18 AM CST / Updated Oct. 11, 2020, 5:36 AM CST

Threatening emails over a Black Lives Matter mural at the University of North Carolina Asheville prompted a campuswide lockdown on Friday, with classes canceled and students told to shelter in place.

The order was lifted Friday night in consultation with law enforcement agencies investigating the threats, the university said in a campus alert.

The incident occurred about a week after students painted a large and colorful Black Lives Matter mural in the University Heights area during a series of events promoting students’ rights, according to The Blue Banner, the university’s student publication.

Early Friday morning, several campus offices received emails “communicating a direct threat to members of the UNC Asheville community” if the university’s Black Lives Matter mural was not removed, a campus alert from Chancellor Nancy J. Cable said.

Cable said the threats did not name any specific individuals.

In response, the university called off all in-person and virtual classes as well as other campus activities on Friday. All nonessential personnel were told to go back home, and a shelter-in-place order was issued for students living on campus.

“We will continue to have a vigilant police presence on our campus for the coming days,” Cable said in a video message Friday night after the shelter-in-place order was lifted.

Local sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Asheville Police Department are to help campus police with additional security, the chancellor said, adding that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are also involved in the investigation.

“I encourage every member of our campus community to remain vigilant. Please take care of one another,” said Cable in a written message. “We remain fully committed to our University values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Black Lives Matter.”