Last March, police in Coralville, Iowa, investigated a bomb threat targeting a high school. Authorities brought in dogs specially trained to sniff out explosives and began investigating why someone might try to target the community’s teachers and students.
Law enforcement agencies quickly determined that the threat was fake. Detective Hannah Dvorak of the Coralville Police Department came up with a theory.
“This all appears to stem from a post by Chaya Raichik and her ‘Libs of TikTok’ account earlier this week,” Dvorak wrote in a report to his superiors.
Raycik, 29, has not been charged with any bomb threats in Iowa or elsewhere. But about a day and a half before authorities responded to the threat at Coralville’s Northwest Junior High, Raichik placed the school offers a “pornographic” book in its library that “teaches kids about gay sex.”
“These are the books they give your kids to read at school,” he wrote on social media platform X. People often target the book in question, “This Book Is Gay.” outgoing guide LGBTQ teen book bans are back years.
A Coralville detective wrote in his report that one of Raichik’s supporters may have had a role in the bomb threat.
Coralville was not alone. Officers and government officials in four other jurisdictions — Burbank, Calif.; Minnetonka, Minnesota; Oklahoma City; and Tualatin, Oregon – told NBC News that they believe Raichick has caused threats in their area with his social media posts digitally deceiving people such as drag performers, LGBTQ teachers and doctors who treat transgender patients.
While the direct inspiration for the threats is unknown, the timing suggests that the Libs’ TikTok posts were used to select targets.
NBC News has identified 33 cases since November 2020 in which people or entities singled out by the Libs of TikTok later reported bomb threats or other violent threats. The threats, which came on average days after Libs of TikTok’s tweets, targeted schools, libraries, hospitals, small businesses and elected officials in 16 states, Washington, D.C., and Ontario, Canada. Of the 33 threats, 21 were bomb threats, mostly targeting schools and made via email.
NBC News emailed Raichik on Monday seeking comment on the threats. He didn’t respond directly, but said in a post on X that NBC News was working on a “hit piece.”
“They are trying to paint me as an extremist to discredit me. This ‘b*mb menace’ story is really getting old,” he said he wroteadd a yawning face emoji.
NBC News identified the threats in a review of local news sources, social media posts and interviews with experts and victims.
33 threats involved both local and national resources. Law enforcement agencies in at least 13 jurisdictions reported receiving assistance from the FBI in finding the person or people responsible. A police spokesman in Burbank said he believes the FBI is still conducting an open investigation into the incident there.
In an emailed statement, the bureau said it has seen an increase in violent threats targeting institutions such as hospitals and schools in general.
“As a country and as an organization, we have seen an increase in threats of violence targeting government officials and institutions, houses of worship, schools and medical facilities. The FBI and our partners take all threats of violence seriously and pool law enforcement resources to respond to these threats,” an FBI press release said.
“If threats are made as hoaxes, they put innocent people at risk, waste limited law enforcement resources and cost taxpayers. The FBI, our state and local partners will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute the perpetrators of these threats — real or false,” the bureau said.
The FBI did not directly respond to questions about the status of the cases involving Raichik or the 33 threats.
Prosecutors filed charges in only three of the 33 instances NBC News reviewed: At least three were charged with threats Boston Children’s Hospital or Boston doctors, a teenager was arrested after he was accused of making threats at an Oregon high school, and five members of the white nationalist hate group Patriot Front were accused of inciting a riot. Pride of Idaho event.
Neither TikTok Libs nor Raichik are named in the indictment related to those charges.