KKK Lynching Message on Berkeley High School Computer Traced to Student

Joseph Serna and Veronica Rocha, Los Angeles Times, November 6, 2015

Concern and fear lingered Friday at Berkeley High School after a male student took responsibility for making threats about a public lynching next month on campus that sparked a massive student protest, school officials said.

In an email to students and staff Thursday night, Principal Sam Pasarow said the male student was identified after an “extensive investigation.”

“All I can share is that we are considering all available consequences for the individual in response to the widespread hurt that these actions caused,” Pasarow’s message read.

He said no other details were available because of student privacy laws, and said it was unclear whether the student would face charges.

Investigators dug through computer files to identify him, said Mark Coplan, a spokesman for the Berkeley Unified School District. A parent volunteer had seen the student sitting at a computer for 15 minutes before the threatening message appeared onscreen, he said.

When confronted with the evidence, the boy confessed Thursday, Coplan said.

The student, who has not been publicly identified, had no intention of acting on the threat, he said. The message read: “KKK Forever Public Lynching December 9th 2015” with a photograph of students sitting in front of a computer in a library.

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Roughly 1,500 Berkeley High students marched through city streets Thursday to demonstrate their fear and anger over the message.

Joined by Pasarow, students walked out of their classes about 9 a.m. and made their way to UC Berkeley to protest.

“They are really afraid because they have been threatened by this message,” Coplan said. “They are calling on everyone to come up with solutions to end this kind of madness.”

The message was designed to look like a website and was uploaded Wednesday afternoon to a computer in the campus library, he said. Someone took a screenshot of the message, which the Black Student Union later tweeted.

The Black Student Union in response posted the message, “This happened at our school! When . . . will we as black students feel safe?”

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