Hundreds of students walked out of Berkeley High School Thursday 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.
The Berkeley Police Department estimated that 700 people were at the 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.”
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.
Black Student Union members said in a statement:
“In the past acts of terror committed against the black student body have been ignored. … 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.