For High School Students In Berkeley, Familiar Protests And New Fears
There’s a rally expected to take place in Berkeley, California Sunday, directly in front of the local high school. White supremacists from around the country are expected to attend. And it’s not the first time far-right protesters have targeted the site.
Youth Radio talked to Berkeley High students Marielena Rodas, 17, and Ayisha Friedman Negrín, 15, about what it feels like to go to school so close to these conservative demonstrations, and how this rally feels different than previous ones post-Charlottesville.
Marielena Rodas: I mean, I think that the first time these sort of white supremacists came and were protesting I guess, across the street from Berkeley High, our reaction was almost like we were laughing at these people, because to us it’s so ridiculous that these, you know, 40-year-old white men are coming to a high school to scare children.
Ayisha Friedman Negrín: People weren’t talking about “Oh did you hear what happened in Charlottesville?” The fact that in Charlottesville someone died is just really scary because who knows if these people come before the protests, they come early and you’re just walking down the street with your friends, and they’re driving in their car and they just decide to run you over like this man did in Charlottesville.
Marielena Rodas: For us living in Berkeley, we aren’t surrounded by these people who are, you know, self-proclaimed neo-nazis or white supremacists, so for us that’s not really a part of our reality. And the fact that it’s becoming so real and that I’m seeing that these people do exist and that they are violent, it’s a big shock. And I’m not sure how to handle that.
Ayisha Friedman Negrín: I feel like I really want to go out and stand up for what I feel is right, but at the same time, like, it’s really scary for my own life, scary for my community’s life. And also I don’t want my mom to worry. She’s so worried when I talk to her about it, she’s like “Please don’t go out that day. Just stay in the house,” so I don’t know what I’m going to do.