UC Berkeley Black Student Union holds vigil to heal, calls to end racism

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Black student leaders held a vigil at UC Berkeley Monday evening for the two black men killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. It was also call for change and an end to racism.

Organizers say this vigil offered a chance to mourn and heal. It drew about 250 people.

"I pray every day that my husband makes it home. I pray every day that each and every one of you make it home," said one woman who spoke at the podium as a member of UC Berkeley's black faculty and staff.

On the steps of Sproul Plaza, a diverse crowd gathered; sea of students and staff surrounded by supporters. Many say they are standing in anguish and heartache.
"We are mourning. We feel hopeless. But we are here together," said Nailah Nasir, UC Berkeley Chancellor of Equity & Inclusion.

Faculty, staff and students from area high schools and colleges joined together to call for unity and an end to racism. This vigil was organized by the Black Student Union.

"It's a healing space for us to come together as a people, black people, to celebrate as well as mourn the lives of our brothers and sisters killed by systematic violence," said A.J. Moultrie, a student who's also communications director for the Black Student Union.

Those attending the event say the killings of two black men by police last week in Louisiana and Minnesota are painful.

"It just scares me because if I’m driving" said Virginia McGee of Martinez, student at St. Mary's College who's a mother of a 17-month-old daughter.

McGee says despite what happened to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, there is no excuse for killings of five police officers in Dallas.

"We're not against police. We're just against what certain officers feel like they can do."

High school student Jerusalem McCrary tells us he's been stopped by police many times at home in Yuba City. But he sees hope. He's participating in UC Berkeley's Upward Bound program to prepare for college.
"We are connected as one. We are a family so what do we do as a family we get together and heal together," said McCrary, Students say public gatherings such as this vigil encourage hope for the future.
"I feel optimistic because of things like this. There's so many protestors going out and protesting," said Chaltu Rashid, a student of Berkeley High.

Organizers and people attending the vigil say being able to talk publicly about their concerns and call for change is an important step to healing.