CORRECTION: An article headlined “Tysen Campbell case postponed until August” published in online at westernfrontonline.com on Monday, July 12 and in The Western Front on page 1 on Tuesday, July 11 failed to properly attribute information to police reports. The article should have clearly stated that police reports identified Tysen Campbell as the person who wrote “let’s lynch her” in posts on the social media app Yik Yak. Additionally, the headline contained an error. It should have indicated that trial has been postponed.
Former Western student Tysen Campbell’s trial date was moved to Monday, Aug. 15, marking the fourth change since the original date of Feb. 29, 2016. Bob Butler, Campbell’s attorney, asked for the postponement with no opposition.
Campbell went to trial on Monday morning, July 11, after being charged with malicious harassment for writing “let’s lynch her” on the anonymous social media app Yik Yak.
His comment on Nov. 22, 2015 was in response to a Yik Yak post that claimed Western’s Associated Students President Belina Seare had “called white college students ‘baby KKK’ on her personal Facebook,” according to court documents.
Four months prior to the Yik Yak threat, Western communications professor Michael Karlberg opened a dialogue of whether the Viking was an appropriate mascot for Western. He communicated his view in a letter to Seare and vice-president for diversity, Abby Ramos.
The issue received news coverage from The Western Front and Seattle’s KIRO-7. Karlberg and Ramos were quoted in The Western Front’s story.
“[The mascot] doesn’t portray students of color on this campus and it can be very exclusive to students who are potentially looking at coming to Western,” Ramos said.
In response, “hateful messages” were detected on social media and sent to Ramos in private messages, according to court documents. These comments continued through Nov. 21, 2015.
The next day, Nov. 22, Campbell posted his Yik Yak comment.
Subsequently, Western launched an investigation of the threats. The FBI and two detectives from the Bellingham Police were also involved, according to Western’s President Bruce Shepard in a statement.
To protect students’ safety after the slew of hateful comments, Shepard cancelled classes on Nov. 24.
In an email to Western community on Nov. 27, Shepard explained the situation, including a detailed account of offered protection to Seare.
Campbell was arrested on Nov. 30. His family posted his $10,000 bail the next day.
His first court appearance was his bond hearing on Dec. 1, 2015.