A Berkeley High School freshman has confessed to leaving the racist message on a school computer that sparked a massive student protest this week, according to local media reports.
“I think the student is really aware of what this caused on our campus,” principal Sam Pasarow said, according to ABC affilate KGO. The student was interrogated and admitted to posting the message only after digital forensic analysis was performed on the computer, the station reported.
“The student is going to face pretty serious consequences,” Pasarow told KQED’s Devin Katayama. “I’m certainly a leader who believes in [repairing] harm in lieu of traditional discipline.”
The message that launched the protest was discovered on a library computer at about 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, school officials said. In addition to using a racial slur, it read: “KKK FOREVER PUBLIC LYNCHING DECEMBER 9th 2015.”
The discovery of the message prompted a massive protest Thursday, with a majority of the Northern California school’s 3,000 students walking out of class for part of the day. Somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 students turned out, district spokesman Marc Coplan said.
Led by the school’s Black Student Union, the protesters first gathered outside the school for about an hour in the morning and then moved on to the old City Hall across the street. They later went to the University of California at Berkeley. Most students had returned by the end of the day, Coplan said.
Along the way, students could be heard chanting “we got that unity!” and “say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
“This is a hate crime and messages such as this one will not stand in our community,” Pasarow, the Berkeley High principal, said in a Wednesday night e-mail to the school community. “We are working hard to create a positive and inclusive school culture and we recognize the deep pain and rage that hate crimes such as this one bring to our students of color, as well as the damaging effects on our entire community.”
The incident was not the first of its kind in the past year. Last October, school officials discovered a noose hanging from a tree. And, in the spring, the school yearbook was altered to state that a group of minority students aspired to be the “trash collators of tomorrow,” forcing the school to distribute stickers to place over the altered text.
This post, originally published on Nov. 5, has been updated.