Racist Threat at Berkeley High School Sparks Outage, Students Walk Out
Nov 5, 2015
Berkeley High School students walked out of classes and rallied at UC Berkeley to protest a racist, terrorist threat. Photo courtesy of Eric Panzer
By Ken Epstein
Berkeley High School students walked out of classes, rallied on campus and marched to UC Berkeley yesterday in the wake of news that a racist threat calling for the lynching of Black people was discovered at the school.
Protesters held signs that read: “Black Lives Matter,” “Yup I’m Black,” and “We will not be silent,” among others.
A tweet from one student said, “This happened at our school! When will we as Black Students feel safe?”
A parent tweeted: “Today, my kid texted me that he walked out of class, and I’m proud.”
The racist posting was found by campus security officers Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m. on a computer in the school library.
Written in all capital letters, the post, said: “F**k All the N****rs in the World,” and, “KKK Forever Public Lynching December 9th 2015.”
BHS Principal Sam Pasarow sent an email to the BHS community at 10:24 p.m. Wednesday night notifying the school community about the incident.
“A hateful and racist message was discovered on one of the library computers, containing threatening language toward African Americans,” he said. “The administration is looking into who posted this message, and I urge students, staff, parents and guardians to please contact the school.”
Pasarow called the incident “a hate crime” and assured the community “that we are giving this investigation the utmost attention, as well as involving the Berkeley Police Department.”
According to BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan, the screenshot was left open on a computer as a displayed image and that there was no hacking involved to change the actual website’s contents.
Students and community members called on the school and district administrators to address the threat of racist violence and accused the district of weak responses to several racist incidents at Berkeley High in the past year.
A statement released Wednesday by Berkeley High Black Student Union said, “We are disgusted by this act of terror … The safety of Black students has been explicitly threatened, and (we) demand that this is addressed immediately by the Berkeley High administration and Berkeley Police Department.”
“In the past, acts of terror committed against the Black student body have been ignored such as the racist statement written into last year’s yearbook and the noose that was found on campus (in Oct. 2014).”
“We will not allow this to be trivialized like these other horrific instances.”
A number of the students were critical of the district’s response to the incident. “This incident happened at 12:30, and I didn’t hear about it till 10:30pm?!,” said one student at the protest who was live tweeting.
According to Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow, a 15-year-old student has admitted to posting the racist message that prompted the student walkout. Tthe student likely will be turned over to juvenile probation for any charges.
Said another: “Time and time again the Black community has been threatened, oppressed, and I’m sick and tired. A email is not sufficient.”
The Berkeley NAACP issued a statement calling on the district to launch a serious investigation.
“BUSD must secure all video of the area where this sick picture was posted to identify and punish the perpetrator(s) of this uncivil illogical act,” the statement said. “We need to hear back from the BUSD administration as to (their) investigation plan.”
According to Berkeley NAACP President Mansour Id-Deen, he has been trying for several months to meet BUSD Supt. Donald Evans to discuss allegations of widespread
racial discrimination in the district against Black students and employees. But the superintendent has failed to schedule the meeting.