Los Angeles has been through a lot lately, so it’s hard to blame people for being jumpy at threats of violence against children.
All 900 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were ordered shut down by the superintendent today due to a “credible threat” of violence. Parents dropping off their kids this morning encountered signs turning them away, and children already at school were supervised by teachers until their parents could return to pick them up.
The threat apparently originated in an email sent to school board members from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany, from someone claiming to be a victim of bullying and an extremist Muslim. The emails threatened planted explosives and people with AK-47s and ISIS connections going on rampages – a combination of all the violent things people have been worrying about lately. LA officials decided to take no chances.
School cancellations are tricky in Los Angeles – we don’t get snow days here, so families and staff aren’t used to dealing with students unexpectedly released from school. Still, people did what they could to help. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced kids could ride for free on the LA Metro, and many restaurants offered free food to lower-income children who get one or more of their meals at school.
Ex-LA Police Chief Bill Bratton has already gone on record saying that the school district overreacted, pointing out that in the emails, “Allah” was not spelled with a capital “A.”
But LAPD Assistant Chief Jorge Villegas said schools were closed “in an abundance of caution.”
“Nothing is [more] important to us than the safety of our kids.”