Tree-Sitter on Trial for Allegedly Violating Stay-Away Order

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OAKLAND-Another lingering chapter of the longest urban tree-sit in history drew closer to an end Monday as the jury began deliberating whether a tree-sitter had knowingly violated a court order.

Tristan Anderson, 27, is on trial for allegedly disobeying the stay-away order imposed on him the night of June 19, when Anderson descended from his perch in the grove.

He was immediately arrested and served the stay-away order, which barred him from returning to the UC Berkeley campus for seven days. The next day, he was found by UCPD on a grassy knoll on the opposite side of Piedmont Avenue from the grove, where he was arrested for violating the order.

"It's a very simple case of (Anderson) taking things too far," said Deputy District Attorney Danny Lau during closing arguments. "He went back right after he got out of jail, twice on the same day."

But defense attorney Scott Handleman claimed Anderson was not aware he had been given a stay-away order and therefore did not know he was breaking the law.

Handleman claimed the UCPD officer who arrested Anderson on June 19 did not inform him he had been issued a stay-away order.

"This case is about the notice, about the duty of a police officer," Handleman told the court. "In this case, something went awry."

About 12 supporters of Anderson quietly listened to the closing arguments as jurors fidgeted and Anderson stoically gazed toward the front of the courtroom.

Outside of the courtroom, Anderson said he thought the case was a waste of time.

"I think it is so silly to bring this case to trial," he said. "It's so lame."

Jurors are expected to issue their decision today. If Anderson is found guilty, he could face a fine of $500, a jail term up to six months, or both. Many did not expect Anderson to receive the full sentence if convicted.

In a separate case, Anderson and a number of other protesters agreed to perform 50 hours of community service last week for violating a court order that sought to end the tree-sit. Anderson said that he planned to serve his time working at the Alameda County Food Bank.


Contact Zach Williams at [email protected]

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