Police Remove Protesters' Supplies From Oaks
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Category: News > City
In what police officials described as an effort to clean up the area, UCPD began removing some of the tree-sitters' belongings from the oak grove near Memorial Stadium early yesterday morning.
A little before 7 a.m., an arborist contracted by the campus climbed into the trees and began removing protesters' equipment from the trees.
Protesters have been living in the trees in the oak grove for over a year in opposition to the campus' plans to build an athletic training facility on the site.
UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya said campus police decided to remove the supplies and shelters because there are currently only four to five tree-sitters in the grove, a smaller number than usual.
"We took the opportunity when a number of platforms are vacant," he said.
In a press conference yesterday, Celaya said the arborist was instructed to remove items that could fall from the trees as well as ropes that the tree-sitters were using to climb from tree to tree and hold supplies and waste.
The arborist, whom police declined to identify, climbed at least two trees in the grove and cut ropes that were holding tree-sitters' belongings, letting them fall to the ground.
As several tree-sitters watched from a nearby tree, the arborist also removed some tarpaulins and platforms that the protesters had been using for shelter.
At one point the arborist kicked a bucket filled with human waste from a tree. The bucket burst when it fell to ground, filling the area with a putrid smell.
Tree-sit supporters claimed the campus chose to remove the supplies this morning because the tree-sitters would not have shelter in today's rain.
"What the UCPD did today was to cut down traverse lines that the tree-sitters use to get food and platforms (they) use to sleep," said UC Berkeley senior Matthew Taylor, a founding member of the Free Speech Free Trees Student Coalition.
A judge is expected to rule on a lawsuit brought by three parties-the city of Berkeley, the California Oak Foundation and the Panoramic Hills Association-by mid-April.
Campus officials have said they plan to let the tree-sitters stay in the trees until that ruling.
Will Kane is the assistant city news editor. Contact him at [email protected]
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