Berkeley High School students organize walkout, march peacefully to UC Berkeley

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Ariel Hayat/Senior Staff

Berkeley High School students peacefully marched to the Campanile in protest of police brutality and in solidarity with Ferguson protesters Wednesday afternoon.

Students filed off the Berkeley High campus about 2:30 p.m., congregating in front of Old City Hall to rally support before marching into traffic. Hundreds of Berkeley High students held signs and chanted phrases such as “black lives matter,” marching the streets of Southside before entering the UC Berkeley campus from Telegraph Avenue.

Demonstrators marched in solidarity with victims of police force, including Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The walkout followed four nights of protests in Berkeley.

Kadijah Means, organizer of Wednesday’s walkout and lead organizer at Berkeley High’s Black Student Union, or BSU, spoke to the crowd of protesters when they reached the UC Berkeley campus.

“Berkeley is a very progressive place, and we’re going to tell the nation it’s time,” Means said.

Unlike the protests of the last four nights, the Berkeley High walkout did not involve any vandalism or police confrontation. The walkout lasted a little more than an hour.

Approaching campus, demonstrators first stopped in front of Sproul Hall to encourage UC Berkeley students watching from the sidelines to join their walkout.  After encouraging students to encircle the Campanile, Berkeley High’s BSU leaders initiated a four and a half minute “die-in” in front of the Campanile in honor of Brown, whose body was reportedly left in the street for four and a half hours after he was shot.

Madeleine Pauker, former Daily Californian reporter and current Berkeley High student, said the walkout was set up about a week ago. She said some teachers have been supportive of the walkout by rescheduling tests and assignments.

According to a released statement from Berkeley High principal Kristin Glenchur, Berkeley High administration was aware of the walkout and would not allow students who left school for the walkout to make up missed work.

“Standing idle as humans are murdered is inexcusable,” Means said in a released written statement before Wednesday’s walkout. “When racial bias and profiling are the motivation behind those murders, they become even more despicable. It’s 2014 — time for tangible change.”

Contact Lydia Tuan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @tuanlydia.