Students walked out of Berkeley High School in California and protests began after a racist message threatening a lynching was found on a computer screen. It seems the message was discovered on Wednesday and the protests occurred on Thursday. It is not clear if the computer was hacked or the screen displaying the message was just left open, but an investigation is being conducted.
Here’s what you need to know about the protests:
1. The Berkeley High School Black Student Union Tweeted a Copy of The Original Message
The Berkeley High School Black Student Union tweeted a screenshot of the original message which reads, “I hung a n***er by his neck in my back yard…F*** all the n***ers in the world…KKK forever public lynching December 9th 2015.”
It is estimated that 700 students left the school and joined the protest, according to the Associated Press.
In this video, you can hear students chanting things such as, “black lives matter” and “throw your fists in the air.”
Other chants included “You’re the ones who showed us how, UC Berkeley join us now!” as the protests moved to the University of California, Berkeley campus, just a few minutes from the high school.
2. The Message is Not Considered The Work of a Hacker
From the screenshot of the message from the Black Student Union Twitter, it appears the message was on the Berkeley High School Library homepage.
But the Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan told the Daily Californian that the screenshot was left open on the library computer, there was no actual hacking involved.
The Black Student Union at Berkeley High School said in a statement that the message was left on the library homepage, which all of the students have access to. They also feel it is clear the author intended for it to be spread.
3. The Principal Said an Investigation of This Hate Crime is Underway
Principal Sam Pasarow addressed the issue in a message sent out to the Berkeley High Community.
“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.”
Berkeley High School thanked the Black Student Union for their efforts on their Twitter with this message:
The school account also instructed students to wear all black to school today in a “blackout.”
4. The Black Student Union Claims Previous Acts of Terror Have Been Ignored
The Black Student Union explains they will not be satisfied or feel safe until this matter is given attention. The group claims there have been other incidents that have not been taken seriously in the past and they do not want this incident to go unnoticed.
The Black Student Union said in a statement:
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. 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.
The group goes on to say in the statement that while this act of terrorism is disgusting, they are not surprised and only disappointed that this message was written and distributed among students.
5. Students Took to Twitter Expressing Disgust & Anger About The Threatening Message
Understandably, this message got a lot of attention, particularly from students on Twitter. Many either voiced their opinions about the school’s lack of action or their anger towards the message it self. Some also said they do not feel safe.