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Two Seattle-area students charged with making lynching threat

SEATTLE - Two Seattle-area teenagers were arraigned on Wednesday on felony hate crime charges of making racist online threats against black students at their high school, including talk of "lynching," police said.

The suspects, aged 15 and 16, had run an online chat group since August in which they made the racially charged threats, the police said.

Last week, a university student in Bellingham, Washington, about 90 miles north of Seattle, pleaded not guilty to a similar hate crime charge stemming from online threats.

Edmonds Police Department spokesman Shane Hawley said the comments from the teens at Edmonds-Woodway High School in Edmonds, 20 miles north of Seattle, included detailed descriptions of how they intended to kill one of the victims, including "lynching," and threats against the student body as a whole.

"They admitted to making the comments," Hawley said, but "denied any intention of carrying out the threats and claimed they were just trying to be funny."

Lynching, or extrajudicial public execution by hanging, was once practiced in parts of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. By one estimate, 3,500 blacks were lynched from 1882 to 1968.

The students were expelled on Dec. 7 - the same day the crime was reported - and booked into juvenile jail on Tuesday on suspicion of malicious harassment, police said.

They were arraigned on Wednesday on one count each of malicious harassment, a felony under state law, in a juvenile court in Snohomish County, police said. They were being held on $10,000 bail each.

It was not immediately known whether the boys had an attorney.