Update: Rowdy high schoolers disrupt Berkeley downtown


Hundreds of high school students on Center Street at 4:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, just before violence broke out. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Update, 10:50 p.m. According to Lt. Dave Frankel, Berkeley Police Department had planned a large police presence this afternoon, following two previous Fridays with what he described as “rambunctious” behavior. The police had received reports that some confrontations were expected between Berkeley High and B-Tech students.

Today’s confrontations, however, spiraled into a series of fights and other disruptive behavior by students.

Two Berkeley High students were arrested and released to their parents, one for punching someone, the other for resisting arrest and disturbing the peace. A student from an Oakland charter school was also arrested for battery via pepper spray, Frankel said. He said Berkeley High staff had been helping police.

There was no information of property damage.

“This turned into groups of people wanting to fight each other,” Frankel said. It wasn’t, he explained, a riot where property damage was an aim.

Frankel said the police had several uncooperative victims of pepper spray.

Berkeley police deployed 22 officers to handle the incidents this afternoon and evening. No pepper spray or batons were used by Berkeley police. Frankel said the cost of the police deployment was “sucking the city dry.”

Frankel said that police are encouraging parents of Berkeley high school students to “come home directly after school.” Even students that were spectators to the incidents contributed to the difficult atmosphere, he said.

Update, 7:20 p.m. Berkeley Police reported the presence of a group of 40-50 youth downtown, with a fight reported in the area of Shattuck Avenue and Blake Street. Police are responding. The incident is on-going.

Original post, 6:39 p.m. A series of fights and scuffles broke out in Berkeley’s downtown Friday afternoon between groups of teenagers. According to some eyewitness reports, the incidents were largely fights between students from Berkeley High School and Berkeley Technology Academy, also known as B-Tech.

“I saw extreme chaos,” said Erin Griffin, manager of NextSpace, a co-working facility on Center Street where Berkeleyside rents space. “There were hundreds of kids.”

A large contingent of Berkeley Police officers responded to the violence. Some people were pepper sprayed as police tried to quell the chaos. (Update, 10:50 p.m., The pepper spray was used by someone involved in the scuffles, not by the police.There was an arrest made for the use of pepper spray.) At least one juvenile was taken into custody and transported to the station, according to unconfirmed police scanner traffic.

“It was real mayhem,” said Siciliana Trevino, an advertising executive on Berkeleyside, who was downtown in the midst of the violence. “There were kids running, some with their shirts off. There was a girl crying. I overheard someone say there were chairs flying. It looked like some people were still looking for a fight.”

According to Trevino, Berkeley police were filming all the kids coming out of the downtown BART station. Some eyewitnesses said there had been fighting inside the station. Trevino and Griffin witnessed the chaos from around 4:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., when they said things seemed to have calmed down, at least temporarily.

Griffin used her iPhone to shoot a video of some of the disturbances on the corner of Shattuck and Kittredge:

A reader initially alerted Berkeleyside to the fracas just before 4 p.m.: “My 11th-grader told me that there was supposed to be a large fight between BHS kids and some kids from another high school,” he wrote via email. “Not sure if it happened, or if there was fallout.”

Police said at that time that no altercation had been found, though there had been a rumor that students from Berkeley High and B-Tech would fight. Authorities deployed a “heavy police presence” downtown to keep an eye on the situation.

About half an hour later, Trevino said she saw apparent problems brewing outside Berkeley High, where she watched police separate a girl from another group. Officers were also recording people in the area.

Police appeared to separate one girl from a group at around 4:30 p.m. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Police appeared to separate one girl from a group at Berkeley High School at around 4:30 p.m. Friday. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Police were using cameras to record people crowded around Berkeley High School around 4:30 p.m. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Police were using cameras to record people crowded around Berkeley High School around 4:30 p.m. Friday. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Some of the crowds had cleared the area of the high school by about 4:40 p.m. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Some of the crowds had cleared the area of Berkeley High by about 4:40 p.m. Friday. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Some of the fighting took place around the downtown Berkeley BART station. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Some of the fighting took place around the downtown Berkeley BART station. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Police deployed many officers around downtown Berkeley on Friday after reports of crowds and violence. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Police deployed many officers around downtown Berkeley on Friday after reports of crowds and violence. Photo: Siciliana Trevino

Berkeleyside will update the story as more information becomes available. We have contacted the Berkeley police for details.

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  • Heather_W_62

    Graduation rates:


    “In 2013, the average graduation and dropout rates were 80.2 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.”

    and this,


    So where did you come up with 95% of BHS students going to college?

    Also, where’s the stats for the 75% playing sports or music?

    You can’t just throw mindless numbers at people with a rant about fighting back on some unnamed challenge and expect any of us to take you seriously.

    P.S, every kid who grew up in Berkeley (myself included) has some delusion that we’re “special”. Word up: we’re not.

  • John Saggett

    Thanks, bgal4. Great insight. The students from BHS that are involved in the fighting and those who cheer it on seem to have replaced privilege with entitlement. They appear to behave as if they are entitled to street fight because, as de’zha boynton wrote above, “when you mess with us we fight back.” I think that they “have NO idea how privileged they are”, as you state, because BUSD seems to allow this type of behavior to occur and looks the other way when criminal and illegal activities take place–on campus and off. This sends students the message that it is OK to behave this way. Not only is BUSD babysitting these kids instead of guiding/teaching them, they’re doing a bad job of babysitting them.

  • John Saggett

    Thanks for those numbers, TestIt. Regarding your last sentence: in terms of cognitive development, I do not believe that high school age students in general operate with a clear sense of the long range future consequences of actions–neither their own nor those of the adults who care for them. Therefore, I believe it is more likely that the kids at Berkeley High have a general sense of how BUSD operates their schools with a model of “warehousing” certain students for social/financial/other reasons. And that, perhaps, is why they were rowdy.

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    well said doc

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan


  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    Mosaic was developed to continue to teach and perpetuate liberal guilt.

  • John Saggett

    de’zha boynton, I am very impressed that you took a stance on this issue. However, I feel sad when I hear a person say that the only response to being “messed with” is to fight back. There are so many alternatives to fighting. I completely understand the instinctive response of fight or flight. However, conflicts in advanced civilizations must be solved rationally and with words. Ms. Boynton, would it be possible for all of the good, very outspoken kids at BHS to take this issue into their own “hands” and speak out to their fellow high schoolers when they hear of violence about to occur amongst their own student body? This verbal action would not only have the effect of squelching the fight, but it would also strike a huge blow against the administrators of the school district who seem to think nothing of students brawling with each other. I agree with you that no one should have to accept BS thrown at them. You and yours can be the evolved citizens that the adults in charge should be. Good students, take a stance and take the BS out of BHS.

  • John Saggett

    My comment on Neil Smith in another Berkeleyside article ( http://www.berkeleyside.com/2014/03/18/beloved-berkeley-schools-leader-to-retire-after-25-years/?utm_source=Daily+Briefing+subscribers&utm_campaign=afb0265d7b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_aad4b5ee64-afb0265d7b-333185957 ) is a useful reflection on the overall attitudes of BUSD officials and their lack of responsiveness. And Neil smith is THE example of how the District operates.

  • Ronald S. Jordan

    My old friends in Berkeley. Responsible parents are the main cause of unruly behavior and lack of civilitiy. The schools and police are not parents and citizens of Berkeley you all are part of the problem of allowing the parents to be absolve of their responsibilities. I grew up in Berkeley most of my life, my parents worked for the BUSD and they would have never tolerated any behavior that I read about on a daily basis in the Berkeleyside. School officials are not babysitters nor guardians, those responsibilities belong to parents. Period.

  • Guest

    Thanks for pointing those out – very well said. Emilie’s brush off was disappointing, to say the least.

  • Captain Obvious

    You make a good point. How much of that pay package comes from OT? It’s important, too, to remember that the staffing and OT needed to police Berkeley is a function of policies set by the civilian leaders.

    Yes, we definitely overpay city workers, including police and especially fire. But the need for police and police OT is magnified by the enrollment fraud mess, the embrace of Occupy, and the homeless industry.

  • Guest

    Thank you.

  • Not quite

    School officials need to review the tapes, identify the students who failed to comply, and discipline them. Any who cannot prove residence in Berkeley should be sent back to their home district at the end of the school year. Period.

  • guest

    I think they were rowdy because they realize that they will have to spend their lives driving on streets with potholes.

    Whatever the subject of the article on Berkeleyside, someone always brings in city employee salaries and pensions, and someone always brings in potholes.

    Since you suggest that the students had a fight because of city salaries and pensions, I better make life complete by suggesting they had a fight because of potholes.

  • endtheBASP

    KTVU said that many of the students were from Oakland Tech. This isn’t a matter of enrollment fraud… Many of theses kids simply were not from Berkeley High to begin with, so lets not make this an argument about enrollment fraud.


  • BerkeleyCitizen

    Walking through downtown at about 5:50 PM was a scary experience on Friday, on my way to dinner nearby. It was big crowds of teens, boisterous and edgy, yelling, running, chaotic and the energy bordering on riotous. I didn’t feel safe–so I’d say it was more than a “fight”.

  • Doc

    Some of the students might not be false enrolled guests of BUSD, so lets not do anything about the problem. Thanks.

  • Not quite

    Except that isn’t what KTVU said. Lt. Frankel said that there were some from Oakland Tech, some from B-Tech, and some from BHS. Pasquale Scuderi said he didn’t know where they were from.

  • snarkalicious

    Agreed. The video-maker’s comment made me laugh out loud.

  • Heather_W_62

    Responsible parents in Berkeley know where their children are and know what they’re up to. Unfortunately, there are many irresponsible parents (everywhere) who are just clueless. As mine were, back in the 70’s. You are right about school officials not being in the baby sitting service, but they sure as hell owe us and their students a lot more accountability.

  • Rachel Anderson

    FYI: BUSD doesn’t not “put together” MOSAIC camps. MOSAIC is a non-profit outdoor education school that some BUSD elementary school students attend for a week in the 4th grade.

  • Heather_W_62

    For real. One news account said they didn’t “recognize” all the students from BHS — the thing is, there are over 3,000 BHS students alone. How could they I.D. every one from this district?

  • John Saggett

    Ronald S. Jordan, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I agree that parents are responsible for having an active role in monitoring their child’s behavior–in and out of school. Unfortunately, it seems as though some parents DO think of their child’s school as a kind of
    “babysitter”, considering that some parents are completely uninvolved in their child’s school life. As I mentioned below, l view the way the district handles certain students as a kind of “warehousing” of students for social/financial/other reasons. These certain students are simply being housed in a classroom while their academic, social and emotional needs are not being served. In essence, the district, by this practice, IS acting as a kind of “babysitter”. And from the number of disruptions and conflicts that occur both on campus and off, it seems like the district is not even doing a good job of babysitting.

  • djoelt1

    It sounds like your allegiance is to an ideology of “you fight if messed with” rather than a specific offense against you since you didn’t mention anything that was worth fighting about.

  • Howisthatrelevant?

    I’m trying to understand how this comment has anything to do with anything.
    Enlighten me?

  • Devon Fortuna

    Don’t worry folks, gentrification is almost complete in Berkeley – only some sections boarding North Oakland left and the ashby stretch off I-80

  • guest

    I think they were rowdy because of junk food and GMOs eating away at their brains. Stop the madness….

  • Anti-Street-Fights

    If not wanting hordes of teenagers fighting in the streets makes me “pro-gentrification” than I am happy to bear the label.

  • Sarcasmotron

    BUSD employees defending BUSD’s refusal to deal with problems. Shocking.

  • berkeleyan

    >the embrace of Occupy
    Oh, give it a rest.
    How much did it cost to defend our city & highschoolers from crazy motorcyclists bussed here by Melanie Morgan?

  • John Burris


    Because if it’s a race thing, let’s make that clear


  • Appalled

    $55 an hour to write parking tickets??? Berkeley High kids could hope to land such a job!

  • Heather_W_62

    Nah, there’s plenty places left in West Berkeley to gentrify!

  • Silent Donald

    Lance, would you mind asking your BPD contacts whether it is still their recommendation that BHS be a closed campus at lunch?

  • bgal4

    Get real….. neither of my sons or any of their dozens of friends (all residents) would ever participate in these melees. They did have to fight off menacing teens on Shattuck who jumped them 3 on 1 in a robbery or the classic suckerpunch to the face just for the fun of it.

  • gues

    So right! If you can’t stomach public rioting and the mob mentality of large groups of teenagers, maybe you should move to WALNUT CREEK where you belong! /sarcasm/

  • Hyper_lexic

    Given this happened after hours and off campus, would it have made any difference?

  • disqus_S1ql48Vi9i

    Don’t tell me your parents actually saddled you with a name like DE’ZHA

  • Silent Donald

    For the more common situation in which BHS students are seen behaving inappropriately around downtown? Yes, yes it would.

    And please do find/read: “Improving Academic Performance Through Conditional Benefits: Open/Closed Campus Policies in High School and Student Outcomes.”

  • Antonio Noguerra

    Walnut Creek, you say? Tell us more about this magical place!

  • Laura Morland

    How do you know this fact? It may well be true; I’d just like to know your source.

  • Cole Younger

    The goal of Diversity is zero white people. Diversity is a code word for white genocide.

  • John Saggett


  • Dave Kaye

    i agree and think BHS should have a closed campus once and for all. We get this kind of behavior from the high school children every year and enough is enough.
    Let the Seniors out with a pass if they have a “B” average and lock the rest in, you have fences BHS…use them!