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UPDATE 3/22 9:15 a.m.: All Charlottesville schools will remain closed Friday as law enforcement continues to investigate the threat.
Schools in Charlottesville, Virginia — the site of 2017’s violent “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally — closed Thursday due to a threat of “ethnic cleansing” against Charlottesville High School.
On Wednesday evening, a 4Chan user who claimed to be a student at the school warned that violent, racist attack would happen Thursday, according to a post reviewed by the Huffington Post’s Andy Campbell. All schools in the division closed so police and the FBI could investigate the threat as a precaution, not because of any imminent danger.
“We’re still trying to determine if the threat is credible,” a Charlottesville police spokesman told VICE News.
Police are urging anyone with information to call an anonymous tip line: 434-977-4000.
Hundreds of white nationalist with torches rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, and chanted hateful slogans like “Jews will not replace us” and “fags go home.” The event eventually resulted in the killing of leftists counterprotester Heather Heyer. Far-right groups used websites like 4Chan, 8Chan, and Reddit — frequently home to racist rhetoric and hate speech — to plan the “Unite the Right” rally.
The closings in Charlottesville also come on the heels of a mass shooting at two mosques in New Zealand last week that left 49 people dead. In response to the shooting, New Zealand banned all military-style semiautomatic weapons as well as assault rifles. Additionally, New Zealand blocked 4Chan, 8Chan, and other websites known to breed white nationalist ideals after the sites hosted a video depicting the shootings.
Cover image: People stand behind a police tape after a car ran into pedestrians during a Unite the Right rally protest over the name change of Lee Park on Saturday Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville. (Shaban Athuman/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)