by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Police released the threatening and chilling 911 call that closed The Evergreen State College for two days.
College President George Bridges closed campus on Thursday after receiving the information from police about what they called a non-specific threat. KIRO 7 News obtained the audio of that on Friday.
A man told the dispatch officer, “Yes, I am on my way to Evergreen [College] now with a .44 Magnum. I am going to execute as many people on that campus as I can get a hold of,” the man said. “You have that, what’s going on here, you communist scumbag?”
There have multiple incidents of racial tension on campus, including a demonstration last week. The threat also comes after a multicultural group suggested white people leave for a Day of Absence, which they said was meant to be a non-racist effort. (Additional context on the Day of Absence is below.)
But it's not clear if Thursday's threat had a tie to any previous demonstration or event.
- About 10:30 a.m. Thursday, a person called claiming to be armed and en route to the campus in Olympia.
- A college spokesman said a "threat of violence" caused the school shutdown.
- Tensions are high as students allege racism, protest administrators at The Evergreen State College.
- Rashida Love, director of the First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program, sent an email asking for some white students to volunteer not to be on campus for an anti-racist “day of absence” event.
- The Day of Absence, based on a play by the same name, dates back to the 1970s at Evergreen. The day is part of two days of race and equity-related events, and in previous years minority students voluntarily left for an off-campus discussion.
- Professor Bret Weinstein then sent back an email saying that asking white students to stay off campus is an “act of oppression in and of itself."
- In wake of race protests at Evergreen, one lawmaker proposes to make it private.
- Read full timeline of events below.
What school leaders said about the threat
Nearly 5,000 students and faculty were notified of the closure by an emergency text system and a campus-wide speaker system. So were parents, who were urged to collect their children at the college daycare.
Buildings were searched and no one was determined to be an active threat. Olympia police, Thurston County Sheriff’s deputies and State Patrol troopers all responded, and Evergreen staff is in contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigations.
The school is technically on “suspended operations.” Staff are present to provide campus services and ensure safety. Police also are on campus.
Kaiser also said the school doesn’t know if the threat is connected to recent racial tensions on campus. Read about the tensions below.
“There’s nothing that I know of that connects these things directly, but of course, we live in troubled times, and you got to take public safety as a top priority for everybody,” Kaiser said.
About the call
The call was made from an unknown telephone number to a regular business line at the Thurston County Communications Center, a college spokesman said.
A source close to the investigation first told KIRO 7 reporter Kevin McCarty that someone called 911 and claimed to have a .44 Magnum. Listen to the audio in the video player below.
Why Evergreen College is making national headlines
Events at the college have attracted national attention in recent weeks.
Protests in mid-May in response to campus police questioning black students, according to a report in the Cooper Point Journal, the college’s student newspaper.
Students said they were protesting institutional racism.
A group of protesters sent the following statement in a news release to The Olympian last week: “What started out as anti-black comments on social media has turned into the dismissal of the rights of students and femmes of color, physical violence by police, and false sentencing of students protesting. Black trans disabled students are actively being sought out and confronted by campus police constantly, police are refusing to explain their actions and harassment. Students will not stand for this anymore, as students of color have never felt comfortable on campus and have not been treated equally.”
Tensions reached a new high after the public airing of an email exchange between school employees over a planned Day of Absence event.
The Day of Absence, based on a play by the same name, dates back to the 1970s at Evergreen. The day is part of two days of race and equity-related events, and in previous years minority students voluntarily left for an off-campus discussion.
This year that event was swapped: White students were asked to leave and minority students remained on campus. But the event had space for 200 students – only a fraction of the roughly 4,800 overall student body, Powers said.
Rashida Love, director of the First People’s Multicultural Advising Services program, sent an email asking for some white students to volunteer not to be on campus for the event, to leave the college more open for students of color, Powers said.
Professor Bret Weinstein then sent back an email saying that asking white students to stay off campus is an “act of oppression in and of itself,” the Journal reported.
Some students have since protested Weinstein, calling him racist and asking the administration to fire him. Videos circulated of protesters confronting Weinstein have shown tense and sometimes angry moments. Weinstein has gone on Fox News to talk about the controversy and penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.
Love's department released the following statement, along with email exchanges.
In wake of race protests at Evergreen, one lawmaker proposes to make it private
A Republican state lawmaker from Eastern Washington on Wednesday blasted recent protests alleging racism at The Evergreen State College, and said he wants the Legislature to privatize the school.
He’s also calling for an investigation to see if civil rights laws have been broken by college actions.
Rep. Matt Manweller, R-Ellensburg, plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would ratchet down state funding for Evergreen over five years, he said in an interview.
He also sent a letter Wednesday to the state Human Rights Commission asking executive director Sharon Ortiz to “take action to correct discriminatory practices or policies” at the college.
His bill has little chance of passing, especially as lawmakers are embroiled in their second special session over a court-ordered fix to public schools. The commission is not launching any investigation at the moment, Ortiz said Wednesday.
But Manweller called the moves a “figurative shot across the bow” to school administration and protesters “that says ‘Hey, the people that are funding you are watching and they’re not happy.’ ”
Some Democrats already are rejecting the bill. The party has a majority in the state House.
The Tacoma News Tribune contributed to this report.
The Day of Absence is one part of two days of race and equity related events.
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