Tree-Sitter Outside Wheeler Hall Comes Down

Photo: Michael Schuck, previously identified only as
Tollef Biggs/Photo
Michael Schuck, previously identified only as "Fresh," had been in a tree outside Wheeler Hall for two weeks before coming down Friday.

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Selina MacLaren Reports on the Rally that Led Fresh to Come Down

Selina MacLaren reports on the rally that led "Fresh" to come down from the tree outside Wheeler Hall.

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The protester who has been in a tree outside Wheeler Hall for more than two weeks came down Friday afternoon and was issued a citation for trespassing.

Michael Schuck, who had previously identified himself only as Fresh, was released by UCPD around 2:15 p.m. Friday, as about 150 people watched. The citation Schuck received banned him from campus for seven days.

His court date is set for April 16.

"I felt (the protest) was successful," he said. "We raised a huge amount of awareness on campus."

He said there was a "sneak ninja-raid" by UCPD at 6 a.m. Friday morning during which six police officers climbed into the tree.

He said he was able to escape the police because he had woken up to pray.

Schuck left the tree during a formal talk between his supporters and protesters against his tree-sit.

A rally had initially been organized through a Facebook group called Students Against Hippies in Trees. According to Eric Tompkins, a freshman who helped organize the rally, the Facebook group started about a week after Schuck climbed into the tree.

"We were just kind of tired of the shenanigans here and we decided we wanted to create an opposition," he said.

However, the rally also drew attention from Schuck's supporters, some of whom attended the event.

"I looked at their arguments and saw that it was a group full of hate, full of illogic," said freshman John Gibson at the rally. "I wanted to explain to people that he does have legitimate issues ... and then to defend the fact that he has a right to free speech."

During the rally, several clusters of about ten people each argued both sides. A group of Schuck's supporters sat in a circle on the ground around a sign that read "What Change Can UC?"

Junior Jessica Schley, who was arrested on charges of disobeying police orders on Feb. 28 after giving water to Schuck, spoke to Schuck and told him the students would work toward the democratization of the UC Board of Regents as Schuck had advocated.

"What I was doing was being the

liaison between him and the dialogue," Schley said.

Schley returned to the dialogue group and said she had spoken to UCPD Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya about having Schuck come down from the tree to participate in the dialogue, handcuffed and accompanied by police.

But when Schuck left the tree, he was immediately taken into custody by police to be issued a citation.

Celaya acknowledged that Schley had requested that Schuck be able to talk with the students. But Celaya said police had spoken to Schuck 15 minutes before he came down and agreed that he would ultimately be released with a citation for trespassing and an exclusion order.

Celaya said police heard of the rally by word of mouth and from Schuck, who had told police earlier that he would come down from the tree.

"(Friday) morning he said he was aware of this event and would come down after," Celaya said. "But he has said that before, and it was nice to see him follow through with his offer."

Police said they felt a generally thankful sentiment from the students.

"I think they are supportive of it," Celaya said. "Frankly, they wanted him out of the tree."


Selina MacLaren covers crime. Contact her and Asaf Shalev at [email protected]

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