Berkeley High students hold their fifth Black Lives Matter protest in Berkeley

The Say Her Name demonstration was held “in recognition of all the identities that have been neglected in the fight against police brutality and systemic racism.”

Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest organized by Berkeley High that started at BHS and marched to Willard Park on Saturday, June 27, 2020. Photo: Nancy Rubin

A protest against racial injustice organized by Berkeley High, the fourth one in Berkeley organized by students at the school, drew a crowd of about 100 participants Saturday.

The Say Her Name demonstration was held “in recognition of all the identities that have been neglected in the fight against police brutality and systemic racism.”

Protesters, who included parents with young children, some on bikes, gathered in front of Berkeley High around 1 p.m. They then marched to Willard Park. Nancy Rubin, who took the photographs here, walked with them as far as Shattuck Avenue and Dwight Way where everyone sat in the intersection and remained silent for 8 mins 46 seconds, the time that has been reported as being how long Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, who died during the May 25 arrest. His killing sparked a nationwide civil rights uprising.

Locally, protests happened first in cities other than Berkeley in the days after the killing. But, once demonstrations started up in Berkeley, it was Berkeley High students who led the way. They have organized at least five peaceful demonstrations since Floyd died.


Perhaps the first demonstration in the city, on May 28, in which a small group of students gathered outside the Berkeley Police headquarters and then marched down I-980 to downtown Oakland, was organized BHS senior Ayisha Friedman.

On June 6, the same day a city-endorsed funeral procession for Black Lives took place, hundreds attended a rally and sit-in that kicked off at 1 p.m. at Civic Center Park organized by a group of Berkeley High School friends. After those who gathered listened to speeches and poems, they walked en masse across the street to hold a peaceful sit-in in front of the Berkeley police station.

BHS students Shayla Avery, 16, and Ultraviolet Schneider-Dwyer, 17, organized a protest on June 9 where hundreds of students marched from San Pablo Park to Berkeley High, and concluded the event by painting Black Lives Matter in giant yellow letters on Allston Way.

The same two organizers were behind a June 23 demonstrations in which teenagers from Berkeley High brought the Black Lives Matter movement to the Berkeley Hills, with a three-hour march from Ashby BART to Codornices Park. Speeches focused on the city’s history of redlining and segregation and participants urged wealthy, white communities to take on challenging conversations and actions to address systemic racism.

June 27 Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest organized by Berkeley High students. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
A speaker at the Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday, June 27, 2020. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Sitting in the street at the Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin
Say Her Name Black Lives Matter protest. Photo: Nancy Rubin

Correction: This story was updated after publication with a correction — there have been five, not four, significant racial-justice protests in Berkeley, to date, organized by Berkeley High students.