One of the inner courtyards at Berkeley High
Berkeley High is addressing issues of racial hatred after a noose was found hanging in a tree on campus on Oct. 1. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Berkeley police are investigating the discovery of a noose hanging on a tree on the Berkeley High campus.

A BHS safety officer discovered the noose on the afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 1. It was immediately removed. The school said it appeared to be an isolated event. Nobody has been found responsible for what the school describes as a hate crime.

“This act of hate has never been, and will never be, tolerated on this campus,” BHS Vice Principal Jorge Melgoza wrote in an email to the school community on Thursday this week. “It is a reminder of a terrible period in our history that will never and should never be forgotten. This incident is a clear and stark reminder that racism is alive and well in this country and we as educators are the ones best suited to combat this ignorance. There are a variety of manners for this to happen and it all begins with us choosing to remain focused on the issue beyond this incident.”

Melgoza said there was no video footage of the incident and, to staff’s knowledge, no students had reported seeing the noose prior to its removal.

He also apologized for the eight-day delay in communicating about the incident with the community, writing: “Berkeley High School Administration takes full responsibility for not bringing this matter to the attention of the larger community sooner.”

The school is taking several steps to address issues of racial hatred, including holding a school-wide assembly to discuss the subject, and providing teachers with additional, culturally relevant, materials and resources.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said police were notified by BHS staff about the incident.

“The incident was reported to the BHS School Resource Officer,” she said. “We are looking into the matter and working closely with BHS staff.”

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...