Three Berkeley High students, one parent and a Berkeley High staff member were arrested in an unaffiliated gathering in Downtown Berkeley on Friday afternoon — the last day of BHS’s Unity Week.
At the gathering, a crowd of about 800 students blocked the streets and obstructed traffic after school on the last day of Unity Week, Berkeley High’s annual school spirit celebration. Multiple fights broke out, leading up to the arrests near Allston Road and Herald Street in Downtown Berkeley.
Sgt. Andrew Frankel, spokesperson for the Berkeley Police Department, said two officers monitoring the activity requested backup in response to the series of fights that had broken out. The situation then required a response from every on-duty police officer. The five people arrested have since been released, Frankel said.
According to Nina Price, a Berkeley High senior, as long as she’s attended BHS, students have always headed to Downtown Berkeley after school at the end of Unity Week to celebrate school spirit together.
Formally called Red & Gold Day, Price said, the last day of Unity Week is referred to by most students as “Rally Day.”
“Berkeley High Rally Day has a long tradition of being really extreme,” Price said. “It’s just become a part of the tradition now (to) run through Downtown (Berkeley).”
The name comes from the school’s previously sanctioned rallies that took place before Price attended Berkeley High. Because of problems in the past involving substance and alcohol abuse by students, the school doesn’t sanction rallies for Unity Week anymore, according to Price.
Charles Burress, Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson, stated in an email that the downtown student gathering was not an affiliated part of the school’s Unity Week.
“They can say that they’re not going to sanction rally day as much as they want to, but it’s never going to stop the Berkeley High students from having a rally day,” Price said. “(Since my freshman year), I’ve never experienced a sanctioned ‘Rally Day,’ but I’ve experienced plenty Rally Days.”