Flash: Hundreds of Berkeley High Students Walk Out over Racist Threats

Scott Morris (BCN), Planet
Thursday November 05, 2015 - 12:32:00 PM

Update from BPD at 1:05 pm: Group has now returned to Berkeley High School campus.

Update from BPD: Group is now on the move again in area south of UC Berkeley campus. Heading westbound Bancroft from Telegraph Avenue toward Berkeley High.

Hundreds of students walked out of Berkeley High School this morning to protest threats of violence against black students and statements of support for the Ku Klux Klan found posted to a library computer on Wednesday afternoon, according to social media posts.

After a rally at Berkeley's old City Hall, adjacent to the BHS campus,students marched up Channing to Telegraph and ended up on Dwinelle Plaza at the UC Berkeley Campus, according to the Berkeley Police Department's post on the Nixle.com website. The BPD estimated that 700 people were at the earlier demonstration. Photos and video on social media showed students holding "Black Lives Matter" signs and screaming in outrage as speakers quoted the posted threats.

The messages include several racial slurs, threats of lynching and a specific threat of public lynching on Dec. 9, according to screenshots of the threat posted online. 

Berkeley High principal Sam Pasarow said in a statement posted to the school's website Wednesday evening, "This is a hate crime and messages such as this one will not stand in our community. 

"We are working hard to create a positive and inclusive school culture and we recognize the deep pain and rage that hate crimes such as this one bring to our students of color, as well as the damaging effects on our entire community," Pasarow said. 

He said the investigation into who posted the threats would involve the Berkeley Police Department and urged anyone with information to come forward. 

One speaker at today's demonstration said the response from Pasarow only came after emails and posts from the school's Black Student Union. 

The group drew a connection between the threats posted Wednesday to the recall of the school's yearbook in June because of derogatory messages about the school's Academy of Medicine and Public Service, which has a large portion of black and Hispanic students. 

The students also pointed out that a noose was discovered on the campus last year. 

"In the past acts of terror committed against the black student body have been ignored," Black Student Union members said in a statement. "We will not allow this to be trivialized like these other horrific instances." 

The school is asking anyone with information about the source of the threats to contact the school at (510) 644-6121.