A group of about 15 people congregated Monday evening at the intersection of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, where they mostly stood in a circle and discussed the importance of standing in solidarity with the recent Baltimore protests.
The group discussed police being arrested and charged after the death of Freddie Gray, who died from a spinal injury received while in police custody. Six police officers involved have been charged with second-degree assault and one with second-degree depraved-heart murder, among other charges.
The event, organized by BAMN, was composed of students from Berkeley High School, Berkeley City College and UC Berkeley, as well as other members of the community.
Yvette Felarca, a national organizer for BAMN, said that while the demonstration was a celebration, the movement must continue to grow. The lesson to be gleaned from Baltimore is the influence that protesters can have, Felarca said.
“We can make these cops an example,” Felarca said. “We have power now — they’re not the only ones who have power.”
She also outlined several of BAMN’s goals. These include the dropping of all charges against police brutality protesters “from Berkeley to Baltimore” and a victory for the lawsuit currently being waged by BAMN against the UC Berkeley administration and UCPD. The lawsuit relates to treatment of protesters last December, when police used tear gas and rubber bullets on the protests in solidarity with the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“This movement means people are fighting for their dignity. Fighting against racism and sexism, even if we’re not affected by those things, is like hope that we can live in a world where we’re all equal,” said UC Berkeley senior Bianca Huntley-Ortega. “The Bay Area is one of the most diverse places to live, but when you step onto this campus, you don’t see that.”
BAMN also proposes changes to campus policy in order to end what Felarca called “racist targeting” of Black, Latino and Native American students, Felarca said. These include doubling the rate of admission of underrepresented students and adopting a “top 10 percent” policy, in which the top 10 percent of graduating classes in Oakland public schools would gain admittance to UC Berkeley.
These proposals were aligned with the platform advocated by the Defend Affirmative Action Party in the April ASUC elections.
Caroline Wong, who was at the demonstration, stressed that just because the six cops have been arrested and charged does not mean the battle for justice has been won.
The demonstration concluded with the group joining together in several chants, including: “Justice for Freddie Gray — killer cops have got to pay,” and “From Berkeley to Baltimore, we won’t take this anymore.”