Once again, Yik Yak is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this week, at the University of Missouri, both its president, Time Wolfe, and the Chancellor of the system’s main campus, R. Bowen Lofton, announced their resignations. These announcements came after a wave of student and faculty protests over their inactions in combating a number of racial incidents targeting black students at the university. While some saw the resignations as an important first step in the healing process, other took it as a sign to escalate fear and anxiety.
In the mere three days since these university officials stepped down, there have been three separate incidents in which online threats of violence have been made against black college students, all using the social media app.
The first came on the night of November 10. Messages were posted to Yik Yak, reading, “I’m going to stand my ground tomorrow and shoot every black person I see” and “Well tomorrow mizzou will really make national news. Don’t go to campus tomorrow.”
The following day, authorities arrested Hunter M. Park, a 19-year-old student at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla. While in custody, Park professed a “deep interest” in last month’s mass shooting at Umpaqua Community College in Oreng. He appeared in court on Thursday and the judge felt him to be such a threat that she denied him bond. If convicted, Park faces seven years in prison.
On the same day as Park, another 19-year-old student was arrested for the same thing, using the same medium. On Wednesday, 19-year-old Connor Stottlemyre was arrested and charged for using Yik Yak to make terrorist threats. Stottlemyre, a freshman at Northwest Missouri State University, is alleged to have posted “I’m gonna shoot any black ppl tomorrow so be ready” and “I love evil, I can’t wait for Northwest to make the news tomorrow.” Stottlemyre is facing both misdemeanor and felony charges. He is currently in jail, awaiting a November 17 hearing.
A third individual, 19-year-old Tyler Bradenburg of St. Louis, was arrested on Thursday, also charged with making a terrorist threat. Bradenburg is a former student at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. While making it appear that his message was coming from the campus, he wrote “I’m gonna shoot up this school”. Bradenburg was arrested at his home. Police say Bradenburg admitted to sending the message. Bradenburg’s father insists that his son had no intent of carrying out an act of violence. Regardless of intent, Bradenburg induced a panic on the campus. His bail was set at $75,000.