Univ. of Chicago shut down, student arrested over threat related to Laquan McDonald protests

A member of the University of Chicago Police patrols the campus in Chicago, Illinois, United States, November 30, 2015. © Jim Young
A college student in Chicago, Illinois has been arrested and charged with transmitting a threat to interstate commerce after posting he would “execute… 16 white [males]” at a nearby university. The threat was in response to the Laquan McDonald shooting.

The FBI arrested Jabari R. Dean, a 21-year-old University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) student, on Monday, accusing him of posting a threat against students and staff at the University of Chicago in retaliation for McDonald’s death in October 2014. Dean said he would “execute” the same number of white men ‒ 16 ‒ as the number of times 17-year-old McDonald was shot during a confrontation with police.

“This is my only warning,” a profile with the initials “JRD” wrote on worldstarhiphop.com on Saturday. “At 10 a.m. on Monday mourning (sic) I am going to the campus quad of the University of Chicago. I will be armed with a M-4 Carbine and 2 Desert Eagles all fully loaded. I will execute aproximately (sic) 16 white male students and or staff, which is the same number of time (sic) Mcdonald (sic) was killed.

“I then will die killing any number of white policemen that I can in the process,” the post, as cited in an affidavit, continued. “This is not a joke. I am to do my part to rid the world of the white devils. I expect you to do the same….”

University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer announced in an email on Sunday that the school would cancel all classes and activities on campus on Monday.

"Based on the FBI's assessment of this threat and recent tragic events at other campuses across the country, we have decided in consultation with federal and local law enforcement officials, to exercise caution by canceling all classes and activities on the Hyde Park campus through midnight on Monday," Zimmer wrote.

Dean did not make threats against his fellow students at UIC, but the school stepped up security anyway, the university said in a statement, adding that the 21-year-old lived off campus.

“We are monitoring this situation closely and are concerned about the impact this has had on our campus and the University of Chicago,” UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis said.

The two schools are just over eight miles (13 km) apart in the Windy City

Just after Dean’s afternoon arrest, Zimmer let the University of Chicago community know that classes and events would remain closed for the rest of Monday, with the previously announced security precautions still in effect.

The 21-year-old appeared in court on Monday wearing a red UIC hoodie and blue jeans. During the bond hearing, the FBI told the judge they had determined Dean did not have the resources to carry out his threat, the Chicago Tribune reported. He will remain in custody overnight until he is released to his mother on Tuesday.

If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison.

The threat against the school where President Barack Obama once taught came less than a week after the policeman accused of killing McDonald was charged with first-degree murder hours before video of the incident was released. At the same time that the FBI and local law enforcement were searching for Dean on Monday morning, Officer Jason Van Dyke’s bail was set at $1.5 million. He posted bond and was released at 5 p.m. local time the same day, a Cook County sheriff’s spokesperson said.

The release of the video has led to almost-daily protests in Chicago, with a Friday march shutting down the city’s iconic Magnificent Mile, an elite retail district, on the official start of the holiday shopping season.