Berkeley High students hold rally for Trayvon Martin

Berkeley High students held a rally and march Thursday in support of justice for Trayvon Martin. Photos: Tracey Taylor

Several hundred Berkeley High School students left their classes Thursday afternoon to stage a rally calling for justice for Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old high schooler who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26.

Students, some of them wearing hoodies with the hoods up and carrying packets of Skittles and cans of iced tea, as was Martin on the day he died, gathered at 2:45 pm in the main courtyard at BHS before marching off campus, down Allston Way to convene outside Old City Hall.

There, they were addressed first by Berkeley High student Nikko Butler, who was using a megaphone to organize and speak to the rally. Several representatives of the Nation of Islam also addressed the crowd.

Students and some staff gathered on the steps of the BHS Community Theater before marching to Old City Hall

BHS Principal Pasquale Scuderi, as well as several members of the school’s staff, were on hand during the demonstration.

“We want justice for Trayvon Martin because he was killed for no other reason than he was black,” said student Yakira Evans.

Maryel Norris, a teacher at Berkeley High, was holding a photograph of Martin in front of her. “It is such an afront that this vigilante is walking around after killing this baby,” she said.

Nation of Islam representatives addressed the rally outside Old City Hall at around 3:15pm

The rally happened on the same day that California lawmakers donned hoodies at a Capitol press conference in Sacramento and members of the Black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander caucuses called on the federal government to intervene in the investigation. Earlier in the day, state Sen. Curren Price (D-Inglewood) presided over the state Senate in a hoodie.

George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer, told police that Martin looked suspicious because he was hearing a hoodie.

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  • Goodkind

    Thank you for attending, Mr. Scuderi.

  • The Sharkey

    Wow, I was really hoping that Berkeleyside would be the one outlet where I didn’t have to read about this ridiculous example of the national news media taking a local news story and blowing it out of proportion with speculation and innuendo.


  • Antonius Block

    Poor Sharkey, you are in my thoughts and prayers in what is clearly a difficult time for you.

  • Lhasa7

    At least I can rest assured that the ones who called me “cracker” from behind (with absolutely no provocation whatsoever, aside from the color of my skin) attended this orgy of bathos.

  • Bruce Love

    Given the content of and the contextual relevancy of your comment,  you might want to rethink that “absolutely no provocation” part.   Might be something you’re “putting out there”.

  • Meliflaw

    Like it or not, Trayvon Martin’s death has become a national story. I’m glad to see teenagers taking an interest in a crucial issue like racism. I like to think that some of them will learn to sort out the speculation and innuendo, and seek facts and, possibly, truth. My daughter was treated badly by a few black BHS kids because of her pale skin, but she was also defended by other students of color.

  • Goodkind

     Yes, they’re kids, who need good modeling, and need  to be taught that name-calling and becoming anything at all like those who are filled with hatred is not a good thing. That’s part of why BHS is so desperately in need of decent anti-bullying programs – to teach exactly those kids to be allies, instead of name-callers or bullies themselves.

  • Bruce Love

    So you are saying that “they” aren’t all bad?

  • John Holland

    Really? Considering that just yesterday some commenters were advocating shooting suspicious people first, and asking questions later, I consider it quite timely and relevant.

    Thanks, Berkeleyside!

  • Sue Tomasello

    Politicians will always be politicians, not a damn thing you or I can do about that, that’s what they do.
    I’m not sure I agree with you about blowing it out of proportion.  If we KNEW that Zimmerman killed the kid because he was AA, then it NEEDS to be a friggin’ big deal.  Wouldn’t you agree?
    And, there is always endless speculation, why we have been dealing with that right here in Berkeley with the Cukor murder.  Why so impatient with this particular speculation and innuendo?

  • Meliflaw

    “They”? Black students, white students, teenagers in general, commenters? I thought my first point–i.e., it’s good when young adults take an interest in important matters (intended as a response to Lhasa7)–was pretty clear, as was my second point: that my daughter was hassled by a few black kids for being white, but also found camaraderie among other BHS students of various races. There are always a few people who are just looking for a reason to slam someone else, but usually more who prefer to be friendly.

  • dsd510

    Good for them. Despite what certain disturbingly conservative commentors may say, this DOES need to be talked about as it’s a systemic issue.

  • Lhasa7

    If I am walking down Adeline Street, minding my own business, and some BHS students across the street and behind me—with whom I have made no contact whatsoever and of whom I am entirely unaware prior to the incident—start making racial threats from behind, clearly the enlightened Berkeley consensus is that it’s my fault.

  • Bruce Love

    But at least you can “rest assured,” you say, that those people who so offended you  “attended this orgy of bathos.” by which I guess you mean this rally for Trayvon Martin.

  • Lhasa7

    They didn’t offend me, they threatened me for racial reasons without provocation. My cynicism about the rally is certainly not by the depressingly predictable repetition of counterfactual statements such as “he was killed for no other reason than he was black.”

  • Lhasa7

    …certainly not *diminished*…

  • Lhasa7

    I don’t think these kinds of demonstrations facilitate understanding beyond a distorted cartoon level, but I certainly agree with you that friendliness makes up for a lot of bad behavior. I remember how honored I was to meet Fred Hampton’s surviving partner, for instance.

    That said, the dogged refusal of certain disturbingly liberal commenters to see that this particular coin has two sides is sobering.

  • Guests

    What’s more of a “systemic issue” in your view?  Self-appointed, armed, “white-Hispanic” neighborhood watch activists who patrol their neighborhoods and racially profile and then end up killing (under unclear circumstances) a black teenager  OR one group or gang of young black males perpetrating violence on other young black males, including many deaths by fire arms.
    If the second issue is, in reality, a bit more “systemic” than the Trayvon Martin scenario, then I assume the outraged students at Berkeley High will often be out in the streets with bullhorns demanding an end to black on black crime and violence?

  • Anonymous

    Seriously man? You really need to turn the white guilt thing down a little. She said she was walking down the other side of the street minding her business (not that it matters, getting called a “cracker” is no better than calling somebody the n-word).

  • Anonymous

    Why are The Nation of Islam jackasses even allowed near children? I can’t even imagine what poisonous stuff they are spewing about this but no doubt it involves Jews and white devils.

  • Anonymous

    Just so I’m clear, if we find the media circus and shallow agitprop aspects of the story to be tiresome and sickening we’re “conservative”?

  • Anonymous

     Would a group of white kids who started yelling racial slurs at a black woman walking down the street be kids who just good modeling and guilty of name-calling or would they racists perpetrating a hate crime?

  • The Sharkey

    I’m not impatient, I’m sick of politicians and the media twisting the facts to foment racial tensions for political gain.

  • The Sharkey

    Interesting name choice. Why the switch from “Riku”? Did you watch “The Seventh Seal” recently?

  • The Sharkey

    How many people like George Zimmerman do you really think there are around here? When’s the last time something like this happened in Berkeley or in the East Bay?

    I’m more concerned about the endless black-on-black crime in Oakland. Teenagers are getting shot to death in Oakland every week, and it never gets this kind of attention. The real tragedy in this situation is that so many of the people in Washington and Sacramento only seem to care about these issues when they can use them for political gain.

  • The Sharkey

    Racist, too.

  • Just Sayin

    Excellent point Sharkey! What about all the AA males who are gunned down each month in the East bay.

  • Just Sayin

    Selective Perceptions of Oppression…

  • Heather_W_62

    No one knows whether Zimmerman was propelled by the fact that Trayvon is black. No one knows exactly what transpired. I believe that, from what I’ve read in various sources, Zimmerman is guilty of shooting someone without provocation under Florida State law. We are not teaching our young people to compile evidence and make decisions based upon the evidence produced. Last I heard, people accused of a crime in the U.S. are presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury of their peers in a court of law. What I’m seeing is that our school district is teaching our youth to make decisions and judgments based upon the sound bytes put out by the mainstream media. I’m not disagreeing with Zimmerman’s responsibility and culpability here, but I think we should be teaching our children better than this lynch-mob thought process.  

  • Heather_W_62

    “Systemic issue” … how? 

  • Bruce Love

    You seem to not understand why this issue came to national attention.   You say you want evidence and due process?     It’s because those things were being neglected that the story went national.

    Reported, undisputed facts establish that the crime scene investigation was poor and that Zimmerman was ready to walk without a proper investigation.   In other words, the very evidence gathering and due process you are going on about was being denied to Trayvon Martin and his family.

    It was for that reason that the Martin family sought and received national attention resulting in widespread outraged, expressed partly in protests like this one.

    It is a result of that widespread national outrage that, now, the state of Florida and the FBI have stepped in to conduct a better investigation while the police chief has taken leave after a no-confidence vote  and a state attorney has been removed from the case.  It is protests like the one you are complaining about that helped to ensure that evidence would be gathered and due process pursued.   Sadly, the shamefully bad handling of the case by the police in the first hours after the event may ensure that Zimmerman may yet walk no matter what he did that night.

    Nevertheless, these protests are about demanding the very due process you describe — in a case where it was being denied.

    It is especially ironic that you call this a “lynch-mob thought process” when, in fact, it is literally the opposite that is actually going on.  

  • The Sharkey

    Putting out a “WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE” bounty on Zimmerman doesn’t seem like literally the opposite of a “lynch-mob thought process.”

  • Goodkind

    Lhasa7 seemed to imply that the incident happened during the rally but apparently it happened on the street at another time. So  my comment above was out of context. so let’s just say this: kids need to learn respect. School should be one of the places they learn it. It disturbs me no end that the notoriously anti-Semitic nation of Islam would be addressing our kids at the district building. If there’s one thing we need now, it is people who preach love and not hate. The memory of Trayvon deserves no less. And all you Sharkeys and snarkeys and haters can talk talk talk all you want but at times like these love is the way, the only way.

  • James Richard Armstrong II

    P.S. I am “James Richard Armstrong” on Facebook and my writing is in the “notes” portion of that Facebook page.


  • bgal4

    Chicago gangster explains in NPR report about street violence why black males in hoodies are seen as dangerous:

    @ 36.42