Hyde Park Jewish Community Center evacuated due to bomb threat

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ByEric Horng via WLS logo
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
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A Jewish community center in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood was evacuated Monday after a bomb threat. The FBI is investigating.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Jewish community center in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood was evacuated Monday after a bomb threat. The FBI is investigating.

The Hyde Park JCC at 5200-block of South Hyde Park Boulevard received a phone call Monday morning indicating a bomb threat. Following protocol, the center was evacuated and Chicago police arrived to investigate. Police gave the all-clear shortly before noon.

According to The JCC Association of North America, 11 Jewish community centers received called-in bomb threats Monday, all of which were eventually determined to be hoaxes.

The FBI and Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating the bomb threats in Chicago and across the country.

"The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country. The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this is matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time," The FBI said in a statement.

As daycare let out Monday evening, word of the threat had parents shaking their heads.

"It's just incredibly depressing. I guess this is the age we live in it, but it's really sad," said Daniel Holz, parent.

"I take them very seriously. I'm afraid that eventually someone will take the next step," said Alon Fishbach, parent.

A total of 54 Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. have received threats, sometimes multiple threats, since the beginning of January. The JCC in northwest suburban Lake Zurich was targeted last month.

"No doubt about it, we live in a time where the intensity of the radical right and racists and hate groups across the country is growing," said Ryan Lenz of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement, saying, "Threats against any American are a threat to every American. Our country was founded on religious freedom and Americans of every faith have helped build, secure and defend the United States throughout our history. Cowardly acts like the recent wave of threats against Jewish community centers across the country, including here in Chicago, are an affront to our most basic American values and shared sense of human decency. Any attempts to intimidate Americans of any religion will fail."

In a statement, David Posner, director of strategic performance JCC Association of North America, said in part, "We are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life. Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs for activities, Jewish cultural and religious programming, and opportunities to come together as a community."

The president bristled last week when asked about threats to Jewish centers.

"Not a simple question. Not a fair question. OK, sit down," Trump told the reporter.

"I am the least anti-Semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life," he continued.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the nationwide threats, saying, "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individuals freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."