Activists march through shops, restaurants in ‘black brunch’ demonstration

Graph Massara /Staff

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Community members and UC Berkeley students marched in a peaceful protest Saturday morning, entering restaurants to read the names of black men killed by police and vigilantes.

The protest — termed a “black brunch” — began about 11 a.m. with a group of 30 people. Participants walked inside various restaurants and shops in the area around Fourth and Delaware streets, chanting and singing.

According to a press release from UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union, or BSU, which organized the demonstration, the protest targeted upscale businesses as places to “stop business as usual” and highlight violence against black people in the United States.

“The small inconvenience felt while we disrupted businesses pales in comparison to the nightmarish reality of being Black in America,” the press release said.

Last month, hundreds of protesters took to Berkeley and Oakland streets after multiple grand juries decided not to indict officers in the police killings of unarmed black men.

The demonstrators gathered in front of the Berkeley Amtrak station before marching into several businesses, including Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, the Apple Store and Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Once inside, speakers from the group read a list of names of black individuals killed by police, security guards and self-appointed vigilantes.

Several protesters then took the mic in the middle of a shopping center on Fourth and Delaware streets, including one UC Berkeley student, junior Blake Simons, who read a poem about his experiences with Berkeley police.

“I show my Cal Berkeley ID, and soon he lets me be free,” Simons said while reading his poem. “No ticket, no warning — it’s like he pulled me over just for fun.”

Ariel Hollie, a UC Berkeley junior and member of the BSU, said she wasn’t worried that student-led protests would ebb during and after the ongoing winter break, when many students leave the Bay Area.

“I know that black people are naturally soldiers,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re on break or in school. People who aren’t here physically are here spiritually — the momentum won’t be lost.”

She said the BSU is planning to continue its activism into the new year, including a renewed emphasis on diversity within the black community and efforts to change relevant policies in Berkeley.

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @BylineGraph.

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article quoted Ariel Hollie as saying “It doesn’t matter if they’re on break or in school.” In fact, she said, “It doesn’t matter if we’re on break or in school.”

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  • transpac10

    where’s a better country to live? you idiot

  • qqrrsstt

    “African-Americans” … just can’t help themselves. They have some kind of … uhhhhhh … “undefinable quality that always comes through”, no matter WHAT. Huh, now that I think of it, didn’t Sarah Palin say something about … “putting lipstick on a Pig” … ? Even an M.B.A. isn’t enough lipstick to cover up that … uhhhhh … “undefinable quality” they have.

  • ScottD2k

    Lets disrupt visiting hours at Riker’s Island and read the names of all the innocent white people that were robbed, raped, and murdered by black people.

  • transpac10

    Naturally soldiers?!? hahahahaha

  • 1MegaBeast2

    Black people are scary.

  • garyfouse

    Intimidation will not win any friends.

  • Arthur Jackson

    No, they DON’T have a right to be destructive, you jackass.

    Let me ask you the same question I asked my idiot liberal stepson when he was expressed support for the Ferguson looters, which is…

    …”will you still support these people if one morning you leave the house and discover it was YOUR car that’s been torched”?

    Somehow I doubt it.

  • M2000

    Strange, you don’t see any of these marches in the areas where there is black on black crime….

  • AlFromBayShore

    Gather round ‘yall and I’m gonna tell you why these folks protest the way they do and, hopefully, make some of you aware of the error or your ways. It’s all about “civil” rights for these people. Black folks have had their popular culture stained with this concept. “Civil” rights is an idea that leads people to believe that rights are something related to “civil society”. “Civil society” is another word for the “state”. And the “state” is merely a group or collective. At any rate, these protesters have been force fed “civil” rights propaganda since youth and so they believe that a “right” is something that society provides. This is why they try to involve everyone else around them in their protests for “civil” rights. The Black Brunch protest is identical to the highway stoppage protests that followed the acquittal of the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown as a result of defending himself.

    Let’s now proceed to the error of YOUR ways! Unfortunately, there are conservatives, libertarians, and GOP cheerleaders who use the term “civil” rights and think that term appropriate when describing the idea of “rights”. It’s not your fault. Unfortunately, our culture has been hijacked by progressive ideas and those ideas infected both major political parties as well as our public school system. This started at the turn of the 20th century. The combination of politics and public education formed a witches’ brew that screwed your minds up. The Progressive imperative misled you into believing that rights and the state were on equal footing. And with the formation of the term “civil rights” this idea was given an easy to remember label which would be confused with the term “individual” or “natural” rights.

    Stop using the term “civil” when describing “rights”. Only use the term “natural rights” or “individual rights”. Don’t just say “rights”. You must either attach the adjective “individual” or “natural”. And never, ever use the term “human rights”. “Individual” or “natural” rights are rights independent of the State. In fact, these rights precede the existence of the State; the State is merely a collection or group of people living under a set of laws. Because this type of right precedes the formation of the State, the State is subservient to the individual and his/ her rights. Therefore, the laws of a State merely exist to protect the individual and his/ her rights. Got it?

    These “Black Brunch” protesters do not believe in “individual” or “natural” rights, this is why their protests end up depriving others of their “natural” or “individual” right to voluntarily participate in a protest. The same holds true for the protesters who stopped traffic on the highways. Here is a quiz question for you: In addition to forcing the motorists to participate in the highway stoppage protest, what other right was taken away by the highway protesters? Post your answers. I hope I have helped some of you. PEACE!

  • There is a difference between peaceful petitioning and protesting and disrupting other people’s business and creating a breach of the peace. MLK and his followers refused to ride buses. These guys invade restaurants, loot businesses and riot. Bit of a difference a few decades makes eh?

  • stealthattack

    “naturally soldiers”

    What a freaking R-TARD.

    She clearly never studied how large parts of Africa were easily taken over by Greeks, Romans, Turks, Arabs and then later Western European powers.

  • Get black young men to quit killing black young men. The problem will be solved.

  • Chris Palmer

    These morons are “protesting police killings” yet in that one photo there’s a “Trayvon” sign!? lol Just lump everything in there together – why would the facts in each individual case make any difference these nudniks?

  • Arthur Jackson

    It was reported that the black protesters became confused upon witnessing a strange and mysterious ritual practiced by the white diners. This ritual was performed at the conclusion of the meal, and involved leaving a modest sum of money on the table, over and above the cost of the meal.

    Not much is known about this ritual, and the origins of this practice are shrouded in mystery. What is known is that the name given to this practice by these exotic white folks is “tipping”.

    • Lou

      Bravo sir.

    • gwumpycat
      • Arthur Jackson

        This was my experience as well, back when I used to tend bar. I’ve told this story here before, but it bears repeating.

        Years ago, I used to tend bar in a small club. The city was starting to see a large influx of people from the islands, so the club owner starting having a Caribbean Night every Thursday. She’d hire a DJ who would play reggae music and so forth, and it would attract a huge crowd.

        As most people I’m sure are aware, bartenders and wait staff are paid less than minimum wage, typically around $2/hour. The expectation is that you will make most of your money in tips.

        Well, after a few of these Caribbean Nights, I had to go to my boss and refuse to work any more of these events unless she gave me a guaranteed hourly wage, because I was making almost nothing in tips. Most of the people would leave no tip at all, and the few who did would leave literally nickels and dimes (no exaggeration – if someone left a $20 bill for a $19.50 round of drinks, that was a HUGE tip). The place would be packed with people, and for a full shift I would net maybe $8-10 in tips. It was ridiculous.

        At the time, I thought perhaps it was a cultural thing unique to people from the islands (I know there are some countries where tipping is not customary, and where restaurants and bars pay their help extra by including a “service charge” that’s built into the prices).

        However, I’ve heard from a lot of people in the service industry that this “no tipping” thing is routine among American blacks as well.

  • Philip Buzter

    And by 2 a.m. the next morning, Heather and Muffy were back at their shared flat and ready for Monday’s classes at New York University. Heather: “Wow Muffy. I mean, like wow. That was soooo cool. Did you see the look on that woman’s face when I screamed in her ear. I thought she was going to barf up her Chipotle omelette with portofino mushrooms. I mean, like I can’t wait to write home about how cool this protest was. You know, my dad was at the Summer of Love in the ’60s.” Muffy: “I know, it was like, so cool. My girl friends are going to be soooo jealous that we were there. And like wow, I didn’t know that about your dad. He must be a cool guy.” Heather: Oh yeah. I mean, if like he was here he would have joined us for this soooo cool protest.” Muffy: “Yeah, it was awesome. Like who do these people thinking they are, eating food while the pigs are killing people. And that one guy really p***d me off when he looked at me and said, ‘I say, do you have any Grey Poupon?’ Hey, by the way, we’re going skiing next weekend. We’ve got this private place up in the mountains. Want to come along?”

    • transpac10

      lot of time on your hands Jack+ff

  • Philip Buzter
  • DJtretre McMillia

    These types put themselves in the same position as my white race types who ignorantly accuse an entire race for someone else or a group of that races actions. No better than the KKK accusing entire races. Just like the LA riots.. they blamed any white person like we were involved or all of us agreed it wasn’t police brutality. These are the two types that are the definition of ignorant and racist. It’s the ones who resort to disrespectfully and unintelligently blame an entire race or think they’re accomplishing something by acting like uncivilized morons.

    • Joe Brulenski

      I’m white and I don’t feel that my entire race is being singled out. The old cliche, “If the shoe fits” might be appropriate here. Wow, talk about hyperbole…this is nothing like the LA riots.

  • wrestlefan01

    lol way to get people on your side by screaming bs at them as they try to enjoy a family meal on sunday morning..i would just laugh and enjoy the food i paid some point these businesses and cops need to start laying down the law and get rid of these loiters

    • kr

      Get mad, they will continue to protest like it or not :)

      • ScottD2k

        And we’ll continue to protest too— in the grand jury box.

        No police convictions. lol

        • kr

          Good- do as you like we will do as we want as well

          • ScottD2k

            Lets disrupt visiting hours at Riker’s Island and read the names of all the innocent white people that were robbed, raped, and murdered by black people.

          • SmashingYoungMan

            Why continue when nothing good is ever going to come of it? Quite the opposite in fact.

          • kr

            To each their own

    • Kira Sasaki

      Seriously.. So your answer is to come into a business establishment. Disrupt people minding their own business. People who have probably done NOTHING to you. Yeah, this will pull people on your side.

      When we elected President Obama, weren’t we promised “hope and change”? It seems like his years as president have only torn our nation apart.

      We now have race riots in our streets. I’ve never seen a country more divided. We all hate each other now.

      They say a good economy cures all. Many of our citizens have had their jobs taken away along with their health insurance. The middle class is shrinking and its not getting any better.

      Obama and Co have destroyed everything they’ve tried “to fix”. My health insurance is $450/month, my taxes are closing in on 50% (in NYC), and even my subway pass is now over $100/month (in NYC). Stuff that is still private enterprise is super cheap. Car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda), cell phone ($22/month from T Mobile), and gym ($15/month from Planet Fitness).

      As for these brunch protesters, what a bunch of low-life thugs. You pay lots of money for an expensive Manhattan brunch, and that’s what you get? Arrest these people for trespassing and throw away the key.

      • Ah yes, Obama meddling with you NY Subway pass and NY State taxes — thanks, Obama!

  • Joe Brulenski

    I applaud what they are doing. White voices need to be raised in the same cause. Are you from Berkeley? Maybe you should go away.

    • So Kali


    • ggail

      White voices need to be raised in the same cause? What a way to accomplish that, scream in their faces and hold them accountable for thoughts and feelings although you do not know anything about them besides the fact they eat brunch on Sundays.

      • Joe Brulenski

        I stand by my original comment. White voices need to be raised…like the police chief in Richmond. If we privileged folk would do that, maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to be in our faces. First world problem….my brunch was interrupted.

        • ggail

          I agree with the what is being fought for and that white voices need to be raised, just arguing this particular tactic.

          • Joe Brulenski

            OK, truce. Enjoy the evening.

        • Philip Buzter

          Way to go, Joe. You’re all over this. Now, listen up. Got a suggestion for you. Why don’t you collect some feces and smear on the stained glass front door of one of those fat cat’s million dollar homes in Kensington. Then, when he comes out and asks why you did it, just tell him, “Because white voices need to be heard, you privileged scum.” Go for it, Joe. The world is behind you.

        • ScottD2k

          Hope the KKK ruins your breakfast. Same thing.

          You are not white, you lying piece of Sheet.

  • Guest

    What makes them think that they are so special that they have a right to disturb the peace. go away