The University of La Verne canceled classes on Friday because of a possible hate crime on campus.
According to police, a backpack with smoke coming from it was found in an unlocked car that was vandalized at a dormitory parking lot.
“It does kind of scare me,” said Katelyn Keeling, a student journalist at the university’s campus newspaper. “I didn’t know this stuff happened on my campus.”
The vandalized car belongs to a student who participated in an on-campus protest last week, according to Keeling.
“They were protesting racism and a bit of injustice on campus and the lack of diversity on campus in terms of faculty, staff and students,” she said.
The incident follows a series of social media messages that were posted threatening Black and Hispanic students. Some messages even contained photos of specific students.
“It was taken of students that were in the protest and basically saying ‘stop protesting or you’re going to get what’s coming to you,'” Keeling said.
According to school administrators, the car was broken into and set on fire. Devorah Lierberman, the president of the university, made a statement condemning the acts. Students were also sent emails ensuring that police would investigate the situation.
“It’s actually really scary to think about it,” said Sandra Gomez, a student at La Verne. “That anyone could be targeted.”