Tree-Sitters Await Stadium Suit Ruling

Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks Aid Tree-Sitters in the Last Weekend Before the Expected Stadium Ruling

Photo: Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks organize food to be given to tree-sitters near Memorial Stadium.
Laura Arnold/Staff
Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks organize food to be given to tree-sitters near Memorial Stadium.

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Yesterday marked the last resupply to the tree-sitters in the oak grove near Memorial Stadium before the decision in the stadium suit is slated to come out.

Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks, a group of women who have provided food to the tree-sitters every Sunday since Thanksgiving last year, supplied bags of food, possibly for the last time.

The ruling, which is expected to be released Wednesday, could give the university the right to remove the oaks and move forward with the proposed athletic center at Memorial Stadium, bringing an end to the 561-day tree-sit.

Last Wednesday, Judge Richard Keller amended the injunction regarding the tree-sit, making it unlawful to "aid and abet" the tree-sitters, which makes the weekly resupplies by the grandmothers illegal.

One grandmother said she was upset with the recent ruling.

"It was amazing to hear the judge helping UC to reword the injunction to make it firmer," she said.

Many of the supporters interviewed declined to give their names because they feared police intervention.

One grandmother said that while she has not had an altercation with the police, she feels "intimidated."

"They could come at any time," she said. "And they haven't been fair."

Yesterday's resupply included cooked food, soups, salads, fresh fruits and vegetables and dried fruit. The provisions, contained in reusable Safeway bags, were lifted into the trees by a pulley system.

The grandmothers said they have been funding their efforts through private contributions, as well as donations from the Agape Foundation, a non-profit organization which funds nonviolent social change that has been supporting the Save the Oaks Campaign since April 2007.

One supporter, who identifies herself as Anna River, said that although the tree-sit has been productive, it is also flawed.

"We need more education and more (public relations)," she said. "People don't understand that the struggle is still going on. They say you can plant a tree, but these are part of an ecosystem."

Laura Zelko, a UC Berkeley student and supporter of the tree-sitters, said the protesters will stay the course, even if Judge Barbara Miller rules in favor of the university. Zelko said that not only will the sitters appeal the court's decision, but they will remain in the oaks.

"The tree-sitters want it to be said in writing that the trees will not be cut down," she said. "Until there is a document (saying the trees will not be cut down), they will not come down."


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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