Threat of KKK-style lynching was third racial threat at Berkeley High this year

School officials say a 15-year-old student has admitted to posting the message that prompted a massive student protest. Students are troubled by what they see as a pattern of racial threats on campus.

Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group/AP
Berkeley High School students yell around Sproul Plaza at UC Berkeley for a rally against racism in Berkeley, Calif., on Thursday. 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.

School administrators in Berkeley, Calif., say they identified the student who posted a threat of a KKK-style lynching on a high school computer, shortly after more than half of the student body walked out of class in protest.

“I think it’s terrific to be able to find out, and rare to solve something like this on the same day,” Police spokesman Byron White told the San Jose Mercury News.

School officials said that a 15-year-old student admitted on Thursday to posting the threat, which included a racial slur and was designed to look like an official school web page and was left on the screen at Berkeley High School. School officials and police have applauded the quick resolution but students and members of the Black Student Union say the incident is part of a pattern of racial threats that school officials have failed to stop.

Recent incidents of racial threats and slurs on the Berkeley High School campus include a noose found on campus in December and a racist quote published in last year’s yearbook. Officials largely ignored these incidents, students say.

"We will not allow this to be trivialized like these other horrific instances," Black Student Union leaders wrote in a statement.

More than 1,500 of the school's roughly 3,000 students walked out of class in an attempt to highlight the incident. Police and school administrators supported the demonstration.

“We didn’t have any problems,” said Officer White told Berkeleyside. “From our standpoint it was terrific.”

The diverse and energetic demonstration remained peaceful throughout the day Thursday.

“It’s really heartening to see this many people turning out," BHS student Alecia Harger, one of the leaders of the Black Student Union, which is credited for organizing the demonstration, told Berkeleyside during the rally. "It’s a great event of healing for black students from Berkeley High who had to endure this incident.”

This report includes material from The Associated Press.

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