High School Principal Leads 2K Students in Black Lives Matter Walkout

Black Lives Matter Berkeley High School (@lucyrosenthal_ / Twitter)
@lucyrosenthal_ / Twitter

Close to 2,000 Berkeley High School students, encouraged by their principal, staged a walkout during school hours on Thursday and descended upon UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza to protest a racist message that was left on a computer screen at the school’s library the day before.

The anonymous message threatened violence against African Americans. “Fuck all the niggers in the world” was written on one side of the computer screen. Beneath it, a public lynching threat was made: “KKK forever public lynching December 9th 2015.” In October of last year, a noose was found dangling from a tree outside of the high school.

According to Berkeleyside, the students congregated in front of Sproul chanted, “You’re the ones who showed us how, UC Berkeley join us now.” They also shouted “no justice, no peace” and held up signs that read “Black Lives Matter” mimicking other movements that have been broadcast by media outlets nationally.

Berkeley High School Principal Sam Pasarow was reportedly on scene at the protests, which he said he “absolutely” supports. “The leadership the students have shown today is incredible. I’m all in favor of the importance of instructional minutes in the classroom, but this learning experience is incredible for the students.” Police officers were also there to escort the pupils on their march for justice. BHS reportedly has close to 3,000 students.

Pasarow referred to the incident as a “hate crime” and said an investigation involving the Berkeley Police Department was underway to determine the source of the message. He reportedly plans to hold an all-school assembly at Berkeley High on December 9–the day the lynching was set for on the library computer–that will present all the contributions African-Americans have  made to society.

Students from the school’s Black Student Union responded to the incident, issuing a statement that called the it “an act of blatant terrorism towards the Black students and staff members at Berkeley High.”

The perpetrator sympathizes with the racist cause of the KKK and makes a clear threat to lynch Black students this December. The terrorists call for the death of all Black people in the message.

Berkeleyside notes that Principal Pasarow raised his fist in solidarity with the crowd after receiving a shout-out from BHS student Alecia Harger, who is one of the leaders of the school’s Black Student Union.

At around 12:50 p.m., the students began making their way back to school after an email was sent out informing them that classes would be in session that afternoon.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.