It looks like assault, even attempted murder: hard, rapid-fire punches and kicks to the head. The victims are kids. So are the perps, seen firsthand in the latest teen-entertainment sensation: YouTube fight videos. The fights are real. One, posted last month and allegedly depicting Berkeley High School students on Dwight Way, shows some twenty kids cheering a big guy throwing a little guy to the ground, bashing his face 21 times in fewer seconds: “This is donell and trevonte fighting down the street from Berkeley High,” reads the summary. “Donell is the one in the long sleeve that gave the beating and Trevonte is the one in the short sleeve who received the beating.” As the film starts, a voice jubilates, “It’s recording!” Girls wearing backpacks hover, excited. In the video titled “Skyline Fight,” a black teen pummels a white teen. “That’s how you do it,” an onlooker proclaims. “My homey, that’s some good shit, man.”
It’s always the head, so you wonder how the losers emerge with eyes, teeth, crania, and brains intact, or even alive. It’s a truism that kids are cruel, but the spectators’ euphoria sends chills down your back. In a video allegedly filmed at San Leandro High School last year, a female student attacks a gray-haired female teacher, clasping her in a headlock. One alleged witness writes in the comments section, “dat bitch got her ass beat.” And race plays a big role. During a fight filmed this February at Concord’s Mount Diablo High School, supporters of a black kid pummeling a Latino kid jeer, “Whoop him” and “Beat his ass.” This film is titled “jameel whoops scrap.” Scrap is slang for Sureño gangsters. A Vallejo teen fight is titled “fuck scraps … I’m beatin’ that scrap’s ass.” Kids raised in the era of multicultural tolerance post comments that would make Martin Luther King Jr. cry. “DAT$ WHA$ UPP HOMiE, FUk A $CRAP,” someone writes about the Vallejo fight. Another blares: “White power.”
The blogger who calls himself the Mayor of Claycord exposed a series of fight videos filmed at Clayton Valley High School last year and sent his discoveries to the Concord Police Department, which launched an investigation.
Most comments just praise assailants’ ability to injure. Regarding the Berkeley High fight, someone muses: “i liked dat slam at the end, was sweet.”
Stealing under cars
Catalytic-converter theft continues, with two reported swiped in the Berkeley Hills, another in the flats, on the morning of April 8.
Shoplifters stole three drawers full of bras from a store in Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza on March 30. According to the police log, three African-American women snatched the unmentionables and escaped in a newish, license-plateless car.
A weird vandalism wave hit the Berkeley Hills on April 5. According to the police report, a Bonnie Lane homeowner saw a tall slim white man wearing a studded black leather jacket rushing from car to car bending, breaking, and/or wrenching off windshield wipers: At least six vehicles were hit on Bonnie, more on Marin Avenue, Regal Road, and other nearby streets. “While I was able to straighten some of the thicker wiper arms,” the arriving officer wrote, others were “pretzellated beyond repair and were a total loss.”
A woman was arrested at the Berkeley Public Library’s Central Branch around noon on April 4 for tearing pages out of a Bible, a case of misdemeanor vandalism entailing the books of Jonah, Zachariah, Obadiah, and Zephaniah. According to the report, she told officers, “I didn’t know it was illegal.” Obadiah and Zephaniah foretell Judgment Day; to wit: “On the day of the LORD’s wrath, in the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all.” (Zephaniah 1:18) Uh-oh.
A study in scarlet
Last December, a Rockridger spied “a young white woman outside my window puncturing a 1 gallon can of paint.” As he told his neighborhood-watch group, red paint poured onto the 51st Street sidewalk: “I confront her and she says it’s for an art project. I tell her to clean it up; NOW. She refuses. I call the cops,” who don’t arrive. Much of the block is splotched. “Meanwhile the woman is filming the whole event!” Fleeing on a bike, she remained a mystery until California College of Arts Associate Dean Ryan Jones, viewing students’ films this month, remembered the December complaint and: Aha! “I have met with this student to discuss her actions on that day,” Jones wrote in an e-mail to neighbors. “I will be asking her to write a reflective paper as well as a letter of apology to the Rockridge community.” She’ll also be assigned community service “to give back to the neighborhood that she willfully damaged. It is rare that we have the opportunity to hold our students accountable for this type of vandalism and I am eager to make it a true and lasting lesson.”
Oakland Police Department|California College of Arts|Zephaniah|YouTube