Berkeley High police cruiser. Photo: Emilie Raguso
A Berkeley Police cruiser that can often be seen outside the high school, on Martin Luther King Jr. Way (file photo). Photo: Emilie Raguso

Update, April 13, 5 p.m. Regarding the students who were arrested Friday, the Berkeley Police Department has provided the following basic information:

  • A 16-year-old female was arrested on suspicion of participating in a riot, as well as battery on a peace officer or other sort of officer or first responder.
  • A 16-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of probation violation.
  • Two 17-year-old males were arrested on suspicion of battery.
  • An 18-year-old male was arrested on suspicion of battery, as well as either fighting in a public place or challenging another person to a fight in public. (Police identified him April 15 as Deantae Williams.)

Four of the students are listed as Berkeley residents. The 18-year-old lives in Richmond, according to Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. Berkeley High Principal Kristen Glenchur identified all five of the youth on Friday as Berkeley Unified students: three Berkeley High students and two Berkeley Technology Academy students. She said the students also would “face additional school discipline.”

Update, April 11, 10:35 a.m. Interim Berkeley High School Principal Kristin Glenchur sent the following email out Friday just before 7:30 p.m. Glenchur said there were 15-20 fights within about 40 minutes on Friday after school that involved 400-500 students and non-students.

The fights involved participants from San Leandro and Oakland, as well as adults, she said.

Glenchur also wrote that three Berkeley High students and two Berkeley Technology Academy students were arrested and will “face additional school discipline.” See Glenchur’s entire email below, as well as an update about the incident from the Berkeley Police Department.

Dear BHS Community: 

After school today, approximately 15-20 fights took place off campus from about 3:40 to 4:20 pm on the east side of Berkeley High in the Kittredge, Shattuck, Channing area. Approximately 400-500 students and non-students were on the street or involved in the fighting and approximately 23 BPD officers and the entire BHS Safety Staff and Administration responded.

The fights involved Berkeley High students, non-students from San Leandro and Oakland, as well as adults. At least three Berkeley High students and two BTech students were arrested and multiple students will face additional school discipline for their involvement.

Following initial reports of fighting today at lunch on Shattuck, Berkeley High Administration alerted BPD, who increased police presence for dismissal. An increased number of non-students, in part because other school districts are on Spring Break this week, were observed around campus after lunch and BHS administrators and safety staff were vigilant in not allowing non-students on campus.

We see no immediate impact on normal school operations for next week. We will continue to call for additional safety presence if information supports the need and we will provide additional details to our families and community where it is relevant and appropriate to do so.  

Please advise your students to move away from gathering crowds. When students run toward a fight it adds fuel to an already heated situation, makes it difficult to identify the parties who are involved, and risks injury to innocent people. Moving away from a fight also allows safety staff to do their job. 

Update, April 11, 10 a.m. Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed that at least four juveniles — three males and a female — were arrested in connection with Friday’s downtown altercations.

Officers responded to Berkeley High School after school staff received reports of a possible out-of-town group of students who planned to confront Berkeley High students.

Said Coats, “After school let out at 3:20 p.m. a large group of approximately 100 gathered in the downtown area. Small fights would break out and the group would travel from block to block. Several people from the group were jumping on vehicles and filming the altercations.”

Police also received reports that the BART entrance had been blocked by some of the people fighting, who were not letting people inside the rotunda. Officers who responded tried to disperse the crowds.

“This took a significant number of BPD resources to handle the situation and impacted local businesses and the Downtown Berkeley BART station,” Coats said. “Ultimately, at least four arrests were made, and the crowd started to disperse.”

Coats said, due to the early stage of the investigation, the ages and cities of residence of the people arrested were not available. Most were arrested on suspicion of battery. She said she did not know of any injuries reported as a result of the fighting.

Coats said she would attempt to “provide more information when it becomes available.”

Original story, April 10, 7:56 p.m. Downtown Berkeley saw roving groups of teenagers, at least two large fights and a heavy police presence that led to several detentions Friday after Berkeley High let out for the week, according to scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside.

(Berkeleyside has a request for information in to the Berkeley Police Department and will update this story if that is provided. The information below reflects what was witnessed or described over the scanner by officers who responded to the scene.)

Most of the activity took place from 3-5 p.m., with large physical fights and verbal sparring reported. Police initially called for officers to respond to the area around Berkeley High at 3:20 p.m. for extra patrols, to maintain a presence in the area as school was letting out.

Readers on Twitter asked for information about what was taking place: “Tons of sirens in downtown Berkeley right now. Not sure what’s going on.” Wrote another: “15 minutes of sirens in downtown Berkeley. What’s up!?”

One officer reported seeing a group of about 30 youth moving northbound on Shattuck Avenue after 3 p.m. near Channing Way.

“It looks like they’re trying very hard to obey all the traffic laws,” he said.

Police said the Berkeley High principal requested that one officer park near the school’s main gate to “deter some of the crowd.”

One caller reported 20 youth who appeared to be high-school aged at the BART rotunda.

At one point, officers described the situation as “escalating,” with “two sides of the street arguing with each other” on Kittredge Street eastbound toward Shattuck.

Some members of the crowd were “calling each other out” and lighting off firecrackers. Someone on Harold Way and Allston Way set the contents of a trashcan on fire. A police officer put it out with an extinguisher.

A sergeant directed dispatch to “send everybody into the crowd, lights and sirens” to quell the disturbance. For a certain period of the time, all of Berkeley’s available police units were tied up responding to the incidents downtown.

As of around 4 p.m., there were still youth downtown, but they were spread over several blocks. One officer estimated that 50 people involved with the incident remained on Shattuck Avenue.

A short time later, an officer reported a large fight on Durant Avenue and Milvia Street. Officers detained more than one person at this location.

One officer said there appeared to be about 100 students on Shattuck after the fight. One student told police that at least some of the participants in Friday’s fights were not from Berkeley High. Youth continued to mill about in the 2100 block of Shattuck.

Many members of the crowd left on BART or otherwise dispersed, though others remained in downtown. As of shortly before 5 p.m., one officer said about eight people were still in Constitution Square, with another 15 or so left on Allston.

According to scanner traffic, four juveniles and one adult were detained during Friday’s incident. Berkeleyside hopes to update this story with more information about those detentions.

One officer told dispatch that five citizens flagged down officers during the fracas to complain about “the BHS incident.”

One Berkeleyside reader on Facebook described the scene as “chaotic for almost 2 hours,” adding, “Hoping that everyone is ok.”

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats confirmed at about 4:30 p.m. that officers were on scene in downtown Berkeley, where a large group of high school-aged students were involved in a fight. No additional information was provided.

2 Berkeley High students injured, 3 arrested after fights downtown (01.22.15)
BUSD superintendent: ‘We have much more work to do’ (11.06.14)
Op-ed: Admin, students share blame for BHS Rally Day mob (10.29.14)
BHS staffer injured, 15 students suspended, due to 500-strong student mob (10.27.14)
Police, BHS prepare for more ‘havoc’ downtown Friday (05.16.14)
Rowdy high schoolers disrupt Berkeley downtown (05.09.14)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist...