Kean University in New Jersey has been struggling with racial protests that were magnified by the report of racist threats on the Internet to kill black students on campus. Police say that they have the culprit and that it was one of the protesters who was most vocal in decrying the threats in protests. Kayla-Simone McKelvey, 24, is a black alum of Kean who graduated in May and is now face with a third-degree charge of creating a false public alarm.
Police report that that McKelvey — who graduated with the degree in in Global Fitness and Wellness and currently works as a personal trainer — participated in a student rally to raise awareness of racism on campus and then left to go to a computer station in a university library. She then allegedly created an anonymous Twitter account – @keanuagainstblk – and posted the threats, including “kean university twitter against blacks is for everyone who hates blacks people” and “i will kill every black male and female at kean university.” She later posted the tweets on her personal Twitter account and asked for prayers.
McKelvey was successful at Kean and seemed to flourish. She was the school’s 2014 homecoming queen and president of the Pan African Student Union. She was organized rallies against a particular professor who she accused of racism.
What do you consider to be the appropriate punishment for such a hoax threat?
Below is the relevant code provision:
2C:33-3. False Public Alarms. a. Except as provided in subsection b. or c. of this section, a person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he initiates or circulates a report or warning of an impending fire, explosion, bombing, crime, catastrophe or emergency knowing that the report or warning is false or baseless and that it is likely to cause evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transport, or to cause public inconvenience or alarm. A person is guilty of a crime of the third degree if he knowingly causes such false alarm to be transmitted to or within any organization, official or volunteer, for dealing with emergencies involving danger to life or property.
B. A person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if in addition to the report or warning initiated, circulated or transmitted under subsection a. of this section, he places or causes to be placed any false or facsimile bomb in a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transport or in a place likely to cause public inconvenience or alarm. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the first degree if it occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency.
c. A person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if a violation of subsection a. of this section in fact results in serious bodily injury to another person or occurs during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. A person is guilty of a crime of the first degree if a violation of subsection a. of this section in fact results in death.
d. For the purposes of this section, “in fact” means that strict liability is imposed. It shall not be a defense that the death or serious bodily injury was not a foreseeable consequence of the person’s acts or that the death or serious bodily injury was caused by the actions of another person or by circumstances beyond the control of the actor. The actor shall be strictly liable upon proof that the crime occurred during a declared period of national, State or county emergency. It shall not be a defense that the actor did not know that there was a declared period of emergency at the time the crime occurred.
e. A person is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree if the person knowingly places a call to a 9-1-1 emergency telephone system without purpose of reporting the need for 9-1-1 service.