Berkeley Law community gathers for student-organized Black Out event

Joshua Jordan/Staff

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Dressed all in black, members of the UC Berkeley School of Law community linked arms outside Café Zeb on Thursday as part of a Black Out event to support the Black Lives Matter movement in light of the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police officers across the country.

Inspired by a similar event led by the Black Business Student Association on Sept. 23, first-year law students Djenab Conde and Alycia Tulloch approached the campus organization Law Students of African Descent, or LSAD, about holding a Black Out event at the law school, and the group began preparing for the event last week.

“We really wanted a way to bring light to all the police brutality cases and the heart and essence of the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Maria Adebayo, recruitment chair for LSAD. “It was really touching for us that people listened and really came out to support us.”

About 150 students and staff members gathered to demonstrate their solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Some held signs that read “Being Black is not a crime” and “You don’t have to be Black to be outraged.” The organizers also invited attendees to share their personal stories and experiences.

LSAD member Ugo Nwasike said in his remarks to the group that he is scared to live in a world where he could be killed for his appearance, but that he felt more optimistic for the future after seeing the display of solidarity at the event.

“Seeing this unity … it makes me hopeful that real change will come,” Nwasike said.

According to Savala Trepczynski, executive director of Berkeley Law’s Henderson Center for Social Justice, it is important that these types of social justice movements “take place at home.” The center rescheduled an event today that would have conflicted with the Black Out.

While this event was organized by students, members of Berkeley Law staff and faculty also demonstrated their support for the event. Berkeley Law professor David Oppenheimer who also serves as a faculty director with the Henderson Center wore black, as did several other professors.

“I think it’s important for faculty to show solidarity with our students because it helps us to build a community in which everyone matters,Oppenheimer said. “It’s up to us to make sure that (minority students) do belong and that they feel that they do belong.”

LSAD co-president Samya Abdela said she hopes this event will serve as a first step ahead of further actions, including supporting undergraduate Black student-athletes and reaching out to politicians in Sacramento. Conde added that she hopes to organize a future event for allies of Black Lives Matter.

“(The event) ended up being amazing,” Tulloch said. “It cannot end here — it’s important to continue the message.”

Patricia Serpa covers higher education. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @pserpa_dc.