Berkeley residents participated Tuesday in a student-organized demonstration for Black liberation, which ended with a march and candlelight vigil for victims of police brutality in the Berkeley Hills.
Protestgoers began gathering at the Ashby BART Station around 3:00 p.m., where the demonstration’s leaders spoke to a crowd of about 100 people. The leaders’ speeches were followed by a series of music, dance and spoken word performances.
About 4:00 p.m., protesters left the Ashby BART Station and marched to Shattuck Avenue, where they occupied both sides of the street. The march, which was organized and led by students from Berkeley High School and UC Berkeley’s Black Student Union, had nearly 300 participants at its peak.
Protesters chanted and carried signs that read, “Stand With Black Youth,” “Stop the School to Prison Pipeline,” and “Defund BPD,” along a 2-mile route through Downtown Berkeley that ended at Codornices Park in the Berkeley Hills.
Shayla Avery and Ultraviolet Schneider-Dwyer, rising Berkeley High School seniors who helped organize the protest, said the Berkeley Hills were chosen as the march’s ending point because they thought its largely affluent, white residents needed to be held accountable for their participation in systemic racism.
“There have been so many protests in industrial, urban parts of the city — places with many people of color,” Schneider-Dwyer said. “By going up into the largely white Berkeley Hills, we’re making a much bigger impact and hopefully changing minds.”
Addressing student attendees at the intersection of Euclid Avenue and Bay View Place, Avery asked white students to talk to their families about police brutality and taking nonperformative action to help the Black Lives Matter movement.
After a 2-mile march of music and chanting, the protest took on a more reflective tone after reaching Codornices Park, where one student organizer led the crowd in a guided meditation. Afterward, leaders passed out candles and lighters to participants in a candlelight vigil in the Berkeley Rose Garden across the street.
The demonstration’s leaders and organizers closed the march with a message about the true nature of white allyship.
“To be a good ally, you need to understand that as a white person you will never fully ‘get’ Black people’s lived experiences,” Schneider-Dwyer said. “You have to humble yourself and push your ego to the side. Do what you can to help the movement, but never speak over Black voices.”