What Happened At Berkeley High School? Hundreds Of Students Walked Out In Protest

On Thursday, black students at Berkeley High School organized a mass demonstration, with hundreds of students walking out of class and marching through the streets to Berkeley City Hall and a nearby plaza. What happened at Berkeley High School to cause so much outrage? One of the school library's computers displayed a racist message threatening violence against black students Wednesday afternoon. As seen in an image tweeted by the school's Black Student Union (BSU), the library's website read "KKK Forever Public Lynching December 9th 2015," along with racial slurs.

The image was a screenshot that had been taken of a school computer left open, showing the library's original website altered to the threatening text. The website wasn't hacked and actually manipulated, Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan told The Daily Californian, the University of Berkeley's student newspaper.

The high school's BSU released a statement Wednesday night expressing anger over the incident. It read: "We are disgusted by this act of terror and demand it be investigated as such. The safety of Black students has been explicitly threatened, and we as the Black Student Union demand that this is addressed immediately by the Berkeley High administration and Berkeley Police Department."

Berkeley High Principal Sam Pasarow sent an email to students Wednesday night assuring them that the administration had launched an investigation involving the Berkeley Police Department. The email, which the school posted on Twitter, said: "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."

Despite the investigation, Coplan told The Daily Californian that it will be difficult to find the person responsible, because there aren't cameras on the computers and hundreds of students use the library every day. However, he said the school will figure out how and when the image was uploaded and "investigate in every direction."

This isn't the school's first racist incident. Last December, a noose made from string appeared hanging from a tree on the campus, and this past spring, the yearbook had to be recalled after it was altered just before it went to print, calling an academy within the high school that serves mostly students of color the "trash collectors of tomorrow."

BSU's statement addressed the previous situations, calling for more to be done this time. It said: "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. We will not allow this to be trivialized like these other horrific instances."

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