Juveniles in custody after fights outside Berkeley High

BHS police

Fighting broke out outside Berkeley High on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at around 3:40 p.m. and drew crowds of onlookers as well as police. Photo: Juliet Wayne

Scroll down for an update from Berkeley High’s principal at the foot of this story.

Four juveniles were taken into custody on suspicion of fighting outside Berkeley High School on Wednesday afternoon.

Large crowds of students and passers-by gathered near the intersection of Bancroft Way and Milvia Street shortly after students were leaving the campus at the end of the school day to watch the fights, according to Officer Jennifer Coats at the Berkeley Police Department.

Many Berkeley police officers were dispatched to the area after receiving calls from the public, starting at 3:41 p.m, and they worked to disperse the large groups of onlookers. Officers were able to disperse the crowds, and they took four juveniles into custody in connection with the fighting, Coats said.

There are no reported injuries at this time. “We still have several officers in the area to ensure the crowds have dispersed and that no other altercations occur,” Coats added.

A witness said she saw Berkeley High School Principal Pasquale Scuderi at the scene.

It is not clear at this point whether the fight involved students at the school.

Update, 8:28 p.m.: Berkeley High Principal Pasquale Scuderi said in an email to the Berkeley High community that there were at least four off-campus physical altercations after school Wednesday; and that at least one of the juveniles arrested was a Berkeley High student. He expressed concern about the number of onlookers, mostly Berkeley High students, which led to congestion and commotion in multiple spots downtown.

He wrote:

Thus far we know that the various incidents, which we are still very much sorting through, involved Berkeley High School students, some non-students in the area of Shattuck Avenue, and a very small number of students who attend Berkeley Technology Academy (BTECH). Preliminarily, we believe that at least three of the incidents were not connected, but we should have a clearer understanding tomorrow.

We feel fortunate to report no injuries.

At the moment we know that there were four (4) arrests made; we know at least one of those parties was a Berkeley High student, one was a student at BTECH, and we are waiting on confirmation of the status of the other parties.

Additionally, we can tell you that multiple suspensions will also be administered at the school site.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this afternoon was the way that so many kids rushed toward the scenes of these incidents and in a few cases, albeit unintentionally, made it difficult for school safety staff and administrators to get to where they needed to get to provide assistance quickly.

I am asking all parents to speak with their students about this issue as so many kids were involved, and even those kids who were not can benefit from the discussion. For some human beings there is clearly a tendency and grim curiosity to run towards these type of conflicts, but the best course of action for personal safety is to move away from the conflict. A student crowding around a physical or potentially violent conflict puts themselves in danger and makes getting help to the situation more difficult.

Berkeley High School will in fact consider suspension for any student who willingly or unwillingly contributes to a physical conflict by obstructing the work of staff members or adults responsible for responding and intervening. We will review this issue with students at school, but also ask all of our families to discuss this with their kids as well.

Given the size of the crowd and the nature of the incident we are counting on several hundred versions of the story making their way home tonight, and given the seriousness of the afternoon we felt best to share with you what we could as soon as possible.

Most of the semester has seen a notable decline in incidents and suspensions and we will work very hard to ensure that today’s events are an exception, and that our positive trend in school climate continues.

Respectfully,  Pasquale Scuderi, Principal, Berkeley High School

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  • guest

    Let me simplify: kids will be kids, SO we need to do what we can to: a)teach them not to fight, b) don’t create circumstances that foster fighting, and c) help them to fix/ recover from the damage done by a fight.
    My point is NOT: “let the kids fight, so what.”
    My (twofold) point is: a) maybe it’s not headline news, and b) let’s stop being sensationalistic and outraged about basic highschool realities.

  • The Sharkey

    I guess I just don’t share your opinion about what is or isn’t newsworthy. An 8+ person brawl with a crowd of more than 100 people in the middle of a downtown street right in front of the High School, City Hall and the Police headquarters seems like “news” to me.

  • The Sharkey

    What did you say? I can barely hear you from up there on that high horse.

  • guest

    Agree to disagree?

  • guest

    And here I was just thinking: “As annoying and snarky as The Sharkey can be at times, at least I feel like he has honest conversations”

    Well, no reason to consider you dishonest, still.

    But I would think you would agree in principle.

    (just to clarify, in case you weren’t here for the edit, there was a whole paragraph added to the comment in question, and significant elements removed, not just grammar. That “grammar” comment is what prompted my “integrity” response.)(pretty much between bgal and me, but since you commented…)

  • Charles_Siegel

    Okay, so then I guess we agree that BHS should do as much as possible to deter or prevent this sort of fight.

    I don’t think anyone in history has ever claimed that there can be 100% prevention of crime.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Are you the same guest who wrote earlier: ” I really don’t experience anything worse than boisterous big kid energy 99.9% of the time.”

    Berkeleyside has a limited staff, and they do their best to report the news with the resources they have. Obviously, they do not have the resources to report on every newsworthy story.

  • guest

    Well some of the outrage I hear seems to indicate that people not only think it’s possible, but they are angry at the school for not doing it.

    Of course this didn’t occur on school property…

  • BHS verteran

    In the movies I saw, the kids who lived in different cities went to different high schools. Putting all the counties little thugz in Berkeley High simplifies logistics for inter-city bouts.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Good move! This is a wonderful example of what’s meant by “it takes a village to raise a child.”

  • BHS verteran

    Caring for children means telling them the truth. Preening self righteousness is never, never useful.

  • BHS verteran

    “and try not to have fights. Just try”

    That’s got a familiar ring…”Just say NO.”? That worked, huh?

    By the way, YOU are very good at glossing over violent behavior, YOU should run for school board.

  • guest

    Because kids who go live in the same town never fight.

  • guest

    >telling children the truth

    >physically harming children

    Can you see how these are two completely different things?

    (By the way: still haven’t seen a response with photo/ video… so I’m not saying this actually happened. But if it did, it IS an outrage.)

  • BHS verteran

    “let’s stop being sensationalistic and outraged about basic highschool realities.”

    That reminds me of a quote from the BHS community meeting on guns a while back, held at BCT. One wizened community member rose slowly to tell us: “Kids are always going to have guns at school!” The stunned silence from the parents was so perfect, you could have heard a firing pin drop. Hyuett smiled weakly and passed the mic to someone else.

  • BHS verteran

    “so I’m not saying this actually happened. But if it did, it IS an outrage.)”

    “so I’m not saying they boiled kids in oil. But if they did, it IS an outrage.)”
    “so I’m not saying they skinned them alive. But if they did, it IS an outrage.)”
    “so I’m not saying they lit them on fire. But if they did, it IS an outrage.)”

    Can you see there is no difference…

    …so you’re not saying anything…you’re just preening. Save it for the mirror.

  • BHS verteran

    An hour to think of that?

  • guest

    Your post would make a lot more sense if policemen weren’t known for using excessive force from time to time.
    But since they are, you’re just ranting.

  • Sarah

    A quick search on instagram reveals some pics from yesterday. Didn’t see anything like this. Seems like quite a few kids had their phones out taking pictures. The probability of someone capturing that on film is pretty high. I’m doubting it actually happened like that. I’m sure the police were roughly trying to get through the crowd of 100 students.

  • Che Joubert

    I’ve lived on Bancroft and other locations in central Berkeley for decades, with kids at Berkeley high off and on, and what I see is the same thing I keep telling everyone about crime – that it comes in waves, is coordinated with HS problems, and to me, seems planned. (I’ve watched the Trulia crime map steadily for two years and saw crime escalate starting in Laural in Oakland, and make it’s way across to the north, so that I predicted accurately when there would be a crime wave in Berkeley.)

    I’ve seen NO fights or altercations on Bancroft for years, the kids are amazingly quiet and nice, but lately I’ve seen more rowdy kids coming down the street from the HS, and if you look closely the groups seem to be seeded with men in their 20’s but dressed and acting like kids. The fact that the cops were there so fast may just be coincidence, since the station is right there, but it may also indicate a set up situation. (When the cops were breaking up the Occupy group I watched an informant enter the park and try to stir things up as the cops assembled across the street – the Occupy people quietly backed him out of the park.)

    It’s time for crime folks, and HS rows and so on. This is no freak thing – most of it is instigated by the powers that be, I don’t know anymore, we used to say the FBI, CIA and so on, who knows now, but my guess is, it’s no accident.

  • dynamo56

    I stopped taking AC transit after three girls spent the entire trip talking about how they had stolen some girls phone, and when she asked for it back and gotten her on the ground and punched her.

    They talked loudly as if to boast, but did it in a complaining way. “She got blood on my uggs when I punched her in the face”. 40 minutes of this inane blame the victim stuff and I was tired of listening.

    If more adults had the courage of the previous poster (I certainty didn’t) it might have a real impact. Congrats.

  • BHS verteran

    “Your post would make a lot more sense if policemen weren’t known for using excessive force from time to time.”

    They’re also known for self sacrificing acts of valor. Police baiting preeners are hardly a unique breed locally.

  • BHS verteran

    Imagine calling 911 with Eveningstar’s expectations:

    E.: “Hello, there is trouble near the high school…send police”

    Dispatch: “What size police would you like?”

    E.: “Oh..something small…Do you have ‘kid size’?

  • Charles_Siegel

    I haven’t seen any comment that indicates it is possible to prevent 100% of all crime. Can quote the comment that you believe says this?

    I have seen lots of comments that indicate people want more done to reduce crime. They are annoyed with you because your attitude makes it more difficult to reduce crime as much as possible. Though you say you believe in risk reduction, the fact is that, if people believe that what is going on is normal behavior, they will not act decisively to reduce the risk.

    You wrote “I witnessed a big fight, complete with police presence and lots of spectators, about a month ago on Kittredge,” If we had a big fight one month ago, and now we have had another, that does not sound to me like normal, acceptable, boys-will-be -boys behavior.

    If massive fights are happening this often, I think you are wrong to say it is not news, and I think the people are right who are saying we should act more decisively than we do to reduce the violence.

  • Berkeleyborn

    The incident I remember most clearly from my youth at BHS was the aftermath of a fight between students from BHS who had been attacked by students from Richmond. I believe the Richmond students were yelling “Richtown..Richtown” but all I saw was some dude from Richmond twitching on the ground at the end of it. Supposedly this guy ended up in wheelchair, paralyzed from the beating he got from the BHS kids. I say this because often kids come from other schools to start fights with kids from Berkeley High, and there are kids at BHS who will do some damage in protecting themselves. I don’t know about this fight just reported but in my time in Berkeley public schools, I saw kids bring guns to school, crack, fights, assaults, all under some wierd Berkeley denial that somehow this stuff didn’t happen in Berkeley and life at BHS was some kumBaya fest. The opposite, it is prevalent but usually only affects the kids who choose to get involved. I think Mr. Tudisco was principal when the incident I speak of happen, but it predates the net (1989) so probably doesn’t exist on record on-line..

  • You are right…it does “take a village” to raise children. When i saw the boys and heard them boasting among each other I could not help but think about their parents. It dawned on me their parents were probably at work at that moment which is where I would have been when my son was in high school. If my son had gotten into a fight in high school, I would hope there was an adult around to stop him and correct his behavior. That is why I spoke up. Someone had to tell them they were being foolish and should reflect on their actions realizing they could have gotten hurt or arrested if they had participated in the fight. The boys were boasting among each other…boys being boys. An adult had to intervene at this point to let them know what they were thinking and how they were bragging was wrong.

  • One of the boys stated the fight was a Berkeley High School fight among the students. These things do happen. I wonder if Berkeley High School has a boxing program coached by an adult who can teach these boys how to fight correctly? A boxing program is great for children after school to get out their aggressions and learn discipline and respect for the art of fighting. My son was in the wrestiing program in high school. He learned how to defend himeself but he also learned discipline, respect for his oppenents and the right and wrong of fighting. My son had a lot anger as he grew up which I found out about later. The wrestling program taught him how to channel that anger and do something positive with it.

  • BHS verteran

    “the fact is that, if people believe that what is going on is normal behavior, they will not act decisively to reduce the risk.”

    That’s exactly right. Berkeley has accustomed itself to so many wrong “normals”
    it has forgotten how to judge.

  • The Sharkey

    Always-on social media make flash mob crimes and organized looting extremely easy. I don’t know of them happening in the Bay Area yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

    Without some kind of hard evidence blaming it on “the powers that be” seems like paranoid fantasy. The reason the Police showed up so quickly to this fight is far more likely to be a result of how close it was to Police HQ rather than some intricate conspiracy orchestrated by the FBI/CIA/NSA. There’s not much to gain out of something like this for the Police, and a lot to lose if a conspiracy of that sort was ever found out.

  • Parent of BHS Student. . .

    I heard there is more violence going on there now–or at least a lot of police and kids. Any one know whats happening?

  • Another BHS parent

    I heard the same thing from my daughter…. near the BART station.

  • PragmaticProgressive

    Really sorry to hear this.

    Unrelated to the school incidents — I was walking near the BART station around lunch time today. That stretch of Shattuck between Kittredge and Center needs a reboot. Street people were yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. Not angry yelling — just yelling because, it seems, talking at a normal volume just wouldn’t do.

    Regardless of whether they’re sitting or standing, I don’t understand why this part of town has to be a gantlet.

  • bgal4

    Same stuff, fights with an audience, happened a few times this week according the school board member I ran into while walking to the bank downtown.

  • EBGuy

    FYI… hat tip to the Patch.
    From the Principal’s Winter Letter
    Suspensions, those incidents generally pertaining to more serious issues like physical altercations, alcohol or substance issues, or vandalism, totalled 165 from the beginning of school through winter break in 2011-2012, while for the same period of time this year we have logged 104. This means suspensions have dropped by almost 37% from where they were last year at this time.

  • bgal4

    data reliable has never been BUSD or BHS strong suit, not OUSD suspensions data that is different story, with OCR and Urban Strategies watching, that data is verifiable.