There are unusual tensions in Berkeley Public Schools

POLITICO

On Oct. 18, hundreds of Berkeley High School students, with the blessing of some of their teachers, left their classrooms in the middle of the day and gathered at a nearby park.
Just as on the nearby campus of the University of California — famed since the 1960s for its marches, sit-ins and progressive ideals — students at Berkeley High have a long history of hitting the streets in dissent.
In the 1960s, they walked out to oppose the Vietnam War.
More recently, they have shown up in droves to advocate for Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, reproductive rights and L.G.B.T.Q.
But this walkout reverberated in unexpected ways through the Berkeley public school system and the city’s ordinarily tight-knit community.
Some Jewish students, and their self-described Zionist parents, felt frightened by what they saw and heard, including a vulgar shout about Zionism — a claim vigorously denied by demonstrators.
Reflecting the complexity surrounding this dispute — where symbols, slogans and flags have different meanings to supporters of both sides — some Israel-backing parents saw the march and others that followed at Berkeley public schools as hateful.
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NEUTRAL

The controversy began with a walkout.

On Oct. With the approval of a few of their teachers, several hundred Berkeley High School students gathered at a nearby park during the middle of the day and left their classrooms.

“Free Palestine!” they chanted. “Quit destroying Gaza!”.

“From the waterway to the ocean!”.

In her thank you speech, one of their teachers, Becky Villagran, reminded the roughly 150 people in attendance that there were many more people who had lost their lives in the Gaza conflict than just a numerical figure.

Similar to the University of California’s nearby campus, which has gained notoriety since the 1960s for its marches, sit-ins, and progressive ideals, Berkeley High students have a lengthy tradition of taking to the streets in protest. They protested the Vietnam War by walking out in the 1960s. They pushed for the creation of ethnic studies courses in the 1990s. More recently, they have shown up in droves to advocate for Black Lives Matter, immigration reform, reproductive rights and L. G. B. C. T. Q. rights.

But this walkout reverberated in unexpected ways through the Berkeley public school system and the city’s ordinarily tight-knit community.

Some Jewish students and their parents, who identified as Zionists, claimed to be scared by what they heard and saw, including a crude yell about Zionism, which the protesters vehemently denied.

Reflecting the complexity surrounding this dispute — where symbols, slogans and flags have different meanings to supporters of both sides — some Israel-backing parents saw the march and others that followed at Berkeley public schools as hateful.

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