BERKELEY (AP) — At least 2,000 of Berkeley High School students walked out of class Thursday in protest of a racist message left on a computer screen a day earlier, district officials said.
The message referred to the Ku Klux Klan, using derogatory language related to African Americans and threatening a “public lynching” on Dec. 9.
The message was discovered Wednesday afternoon. Principal Sam Pasarow said in an email to the school community late Wednesday that the school is giving the investigation the “utmost attention,” and it has filed a report with Berkeley Police Department.
District officials say the message appeared to be a modified screen shot of the school’s library web page that was left on one computer in the library. It did not appear that the system had been hacked and the website altered.
District spokesman Marc Coplan told the San Francisco Chronicle that an estimated 2,000 of the school’s 3,000 students had left school grounds to participate in a march, which moved to the University of California, Berkeley campus late Thursday morning.
“We really understand the students’ pain, their anguish and their fear and are doing everything we can to work with Berkeley police and other agencies to figure out what happened,” Coplan told the newspaper. “Our students are hurting tremendously. They’re weeping. They’re crying.”
The threat was the third racist incident at the school in the last year.
In December, over winter break, a noose made from string was found hanging from a tree on the campus. In the spring, the yearbook was altered just prior to printing, identifying an academy within the high school that serves primarily students of color as “trash collectors of tomorrow,” the newspaper reported.