UCPD: Protesters Damaged Two Trees Near Stadium

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Protesters living in trees near Memorial Stadium are suspected of causing damage to two of the trees in the area according to police who said they are continuing to investigate the situation.

Members of the Save the Oaks at the Stadium coaltion are suspected of causing damage to a cedar and redwood during construction of a sleeping platform, said UCPD Lt. Doug Wing.

The person or group responsible for the damage could face misdemeanor charges for vandalizing the trees, which are the property of the university, as well as charges for trespassing and lodging on campus, Wing said. “They have no legal right to be there and they’re trespassing on UC property,” he said.

While Wing said members of the coalition are suspected of causing the damage, he said an investigation is still underway.

“We’re reviewing what exactly went on and what needs to be done. We believe members of the Save the Oaks coalition are involved,” he said.

Save the Oaks at the Stadium, which includes members of the Berkeley community and a group of students, is protesting against the proposed construction of a $125 million athletic training facility.

The university has said it will plant two young trees and one mature one for each of the 43 trees slated to be removed in the construction process, but protesters said the trees should not be removed in the first place.

“There are four or five other sites where they could put the facility, and there’s no reason to tear down all of these trees,” said Ayr, a member of the coalition who declined to give his last name.

Ayr, who said he has been demonstrating at the site since Dec. 2, said the coalition is aiming to raise public awareness of the issue by living on sleeping platforms high up in some of the grove’s trees.

The sleeping platforms are made out of plywood planks and springy, net-like reed catchers that are tied tightly to the trees so as not to cause any damage, Ayr said.

He also said no permanent damage was done to the two trees in question.

“It’s ridiculous and hypocritical for the UC to cry crocodile tears about removing dead and damaged branches when they’re planning on cutting down the grove,” he said.

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