The New Jersey rally was intended to show solidarity with students protesting against racism at the University of Missouri.
But one participant at the Kean University event allegedly slipped away to a computer in the university library to make “racially charged threats of violence” via social media, according to the office of Union County Prosecutor Grace Park.
Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, has been charged with a count of third-degree creating a false public alarm, Park’s office announced Tuesday. If convicted, she faces three to five years in a state prison.
McKelvey, who graduated in May, was among the more than 100 participants at the November 17 rally.
From a library computer, McKelvey — who is African-American — allegedly created an anonymous Twitter account and posted “racially charged threats of violence against black Kean students,” according to the prosecutor’s office.
The threats on the Twitter account — @keanuagainstblk — included: “i will shoot any black person i see at kean university” and “@KeanUniversity theres a bomb on your campus.”
The account has since been suspended, but multiple screen grabs of the tweets have been shared via social media.
After making the alleged threats, McKelvey returned to the rally and alerted others to the social media posts, according to the Union County prosecutor’s office.
An investigation revealed there was never any actual plan to harm students, prosecutors said. It’s unclear how prosecutors learned that McKelvey allegedly sent the false threats.
Last month, a student leader at the University of Missouri, Jonathan Butler, went on a hunger strike to draw attention to what he said was university system President Timothy Wolfe’s inaction against racism on the overwhelmingly white Columbia campus.
After nearly a week of protests, which included some African-American football players who refused to practice unless Wolfe was removed, the president announced his resignation.
McKelvey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, according to the director of Kean’s media relations department, Margaret McCorry.
“As a diverse academic community, we wholeheartedly respect and support activism, however, no cause or issue gives anyone the right to threaten the safety of others,” Kean University President Dawood Farahi said in a statement to his students.
McKelvey will appear in court December 14. It’s unclear whether she has an attorney.