Two Arrested After Rally for Tree-SitterSpectators at Wheeler Hall Protest Clash With Police While Trying to Deliver Water to Trees
Monday, March 10, 2008
Category: News > City > Crime
UCPD took two people into custody yesterday after they participated in a large rally for the tree-sitter outside Wheeler Hall.
As a crowd of 50 spectators gathered, about 10 to 20 supporters tried to deliver water to the protester, who identifies himself as Fresh.
Fresh has been in the trees since Feb. 26, calling for the democratization of the UC Board of Regents and the end of the campus's deal with energy giant BP, among other demands.
About eight police officers tried to prevent the crowd from delivering the water, saying that aiding the suspect would lead to arrest.
"We're trying to give water to the poor man in the tree," said Ann Clark, a Berkeley resident who watched the incident.
Supporters linked arms and gathered tightly around a water jug while some filled small bottles with water.
Following Fresh's suggestion, a man in the crowd tied water bottles together and flung them into the tree, where they caught on the branches.
The man who threw the bottles was immediately taken into custody on suspiction of obstructing an officer and being a principal in the lodging case, said UCPD Lt. Adan Tejada.
"This is a crime scene, and (Fresh) is a suspect for causing a disturbance on campus and possibly other charges, so we are preventing others from aiding him," said UCPD Officer Sean Aranas.
The second person taken into custody was UC Berkeley alumnus Jason Ahmadi, who said he made a banner used by Fresh. Police said Ahmadi was taken into custody for allegedly being a principal in the lodging case.
Supporters of the Wheeler Hall protest said UCPD should not have taken people into custody, since they said provisions have been given to the Memorial Stadium oak grove tree-sitters.
"They allowed us to give gallons of water at the other tree-sit," said Jonas LaMattery-Brownell, an Oakland resident.
Police said they had the discretion to choose whether or not to make arrests for misdemeanors.
During the rally, police and protesters were pushing each other. Many said the violence was uncalled for.
"(The police) targeted me because I was standing up," said Beverly Dove, who was involved in the altercation. "Is this what democracy looks like?"
After police pulled the water jug away from the crowd and emptied it, the crowd slowly broke up.
Selina MacLaren covers crime. Contact her at [email protected]
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