Safety First

Tree-sitters' response to removal by arborists placed safety of various parties in jeopardy, including themselves.

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Millipede, Squirtle, Dumpster Muffin-these are just a few aliases protesters in the oak grove near Memorial Stadium have adopted. Their names border on farce, and their actions are not any less preposterous.

It's disappointing to have to continually condemn these tree-sitters, but their reactions to arborists removing their supplies last week warrant another round of reprimanding. Apparently, biting and flinging bodily waste are acts that happen outside of the zoo.

While it's clear these protesters are willing to employ distasteful means to stop anyone who tries to dismantle their tree village, their extreme response is just the beginning. Not only have the protestors hijacked hundred-year-old landscaping for disingenuous environmental protection, but they've also recklessly disregarded the safety of arborists, police and even themselves. It wouldn't be completely implausible for serious injury to occur or even a life to be lost in last week's event, which calls for a reexamination of how much their cause is worth.

Understandably, the university is apprehensive about plucking out tree-sitters because blame for any harm incurred for protesters or police during the process will likely fall in their lap. But more efficacious measures need to be taken to ensure their permanent removal while keeping liability in mind.

Otherwise, petty actions like putting up fences and attempting to cut off their supply line seem to only reinvigorate supporters of the demonstration. It gives them incentive to regroup and replenish their resources. And efforts to end the protest need to extend beyond targeting those in the oaks: They are constantly being refueled by equally disillusioned advocates on the ground.

It's been over 500 days since the oak occupation began. There's no reasonable justification for them to remain among the branches for another day.

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