No words are strong enough, but here’s a start:
We are grieved that Charlottesville — especially its children, parents and school staff — have had to deal with yet another despicable threat against its safety.
We are distressed for Albemarle students, parents and staff, who had to deal with a threat to their safety as well.
We are angry that loathsome, shameless evil-doers would deliberately frighten, much less harm, children.
We are dismayed that such a philosophy of hate, far from being tamped down and defanged across the world, seems to be growing.
The city closed schools on Friday for the second day running because of a threat to student safety at Charlottesville High School — particularly students of color.
Police arrested a 17-year-old male around 6 a.m. on Friday and charged him with making threats to commit serious bodily harm to persons on school property, a felony, and with harassment by computer, a misdemeanor.
Albemarle schools, meanwhile, were on their second day of alert. The schools are operating, but with increased security, after another threat that referenced Albemarle High.
Albemarle police arrested a teen shortly after midnight and charged the person with making threats against a school. No other details were forthcoming.
The two threats do not appear to have been coordinated, although police are investigating whether one is a copycat of the other.
Albemarle’s Walton Middle School was the center of another threat earlier this week. “Touch me and you’ll be the first victim of a school shooting,” one student texted to a second.
An investigation showed the threat to be not credible, school officials said — by which we understand that there was no real threat to the school, regardless of what the texter and the recipient might have felt about each other. As of this writing, school officials are evaluating the student’s status.
Whether the timing of these three threats is coincidental or whether either of the more serious two against CHS and AHS was set off by the Walton episode remains to be seen.
According to online sources, the threat issued against CHS promised an ethnic cleansing in the form of a school shooting and warned white students to stay home. The threat allegedly was made by someone claiming to be a CHS student, according to online posts.
Discussions of the threat on Reddit suggested that it came via “the Chans,” a reference to certain message boards used by white supremacists.
After the arrests, police confirmed that the threat had been posted on 4chan.
Early on, the city school system acknowledged that the threat necessitating the closing of schools was “racially charged.”
Police initially said they were investigating the credibility of the threat as well as the identity of the perpetrator. Investigating credibility is a cautious phrase to show that police are doing their due diligence at every step, from assessing the level of danger to identifying the perpetrator.
But the threat was certainly serious, or credible, enough to compel city officials to close schools — all of them, not just on Thursday, immediately after the threat, but on Friday as well.
And it was serious enough to warrant the involvement of state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as city police.
Charlottesville School Superintendent Rosa Atkins addressed the need to take every precaution against potential threats, including closing schools when necessary.
“When our doors open, we want to make sure that we have environments that feel healthy and feel safe,” she said. “… We want to make sure that we alleviate any fears that our parents may have and our students and staff may have and to reassure them that if we have opened the doors, we have considered every possibility that we could consider.”
The community is unlikely to know all we need to know about the AHS and CHS threats until details come out at trial — and possibly not even then.
But we do know that the threats — whatever they were and whoever perpetrated them — frightened a community, disrupted lives and added to the trauma clinging from August 2017.
They were atrocious acts of bigotry, stupidity and cowardice.
No words are strong enough, but here’s a start: We deeply condemn this and all such acts.
Editor's Note: This editorial was updated at 2:15 p.m. on March 22 to reflect information on a second arrest.