Tensions High As Tree-Sit Negotiations Unravel

Photo: Protesters and media outlets watch on as the campus cuts off limbs from the redwood tree that houses the last four tree-sitters.
Anna Hiatt/Staff
Protesters and media outlets watch on as the campus cuts off limbs from the redwood tree that houses the last four tree-sitters.

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History of the Oak Grove Tree-Sit

Photos and articles recapping the events of the tree-sit at the Oak Grove, as narrated by staff of The Daily Californian.

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The tree-sit near Memorial Stadium is likely to end in a confrontation as negotiations broke down between the campus and the four remaining tree-sitters, who remain in a tree past the deadline to vacate.

While UCPD gave the tree-sitters 72 hours to vacate the grove starting 9 a.m. Friday, they remained in their redwood as that deadline expired yesterday morning.

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday against an emergency request by oak supporters to prevent construction at the site, saying the issue was "moot."

Both the protesters and the campus worked over the weekend with an independent mediator hired by UC Berkeley to negotiate a settlement to bring the tree-sitters down.

Peter Bluhon, the mediator, said he told both sides at 8 p.m. Sunday that he didn't anticipate a compromise before the campus's 72-hour ultimatum ended.

"It's my responsibility to be efficient with peoples' time ... And to do so I called it off," he said.

The activists first climbed into the trees on December 2, 2006, seeking to prevent the removal of 42 trees at the site of a proposed $124 million athletic center.

Campus officials said they told the tree-sitters that their departure from the trees was a prerequisite for further discussions.

But the sitters and their supporters felt they would be losing a bargaining tool if the tree-sitters came down. They asked that the campus promise permanent and long-term discussions over the campus' use of land, as well as payment of $6 million in mitigation-that would be donated to groups of their choice- before the sitters leave the trees.

Neither side reached an agreement and negotiations were stopped. Bluhon said he not spoken substantially with either party since Sunday night.

Dan Mogulof, the campus's executive director of public affairs, said the campus was through speaking with the protesters.

"We're moving on," Mogulof said. "Preparations are under way to bring the protest to a safe and controlled conclusion."

Last night, under the direction of UCPD Chief Victoria Harrison and Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya, an arborist removed a dozen branches from the lone redwood tree occupied by the four sitters, giving them less room to maneuver.

Activists on the ground, too, prepared for the possible extraction of the tree-sitters.

"The more people we have here, the safer they are-we need you here," Erik "Ayr" Eisenberg, the unofficial spokesperson of the tree-sit, told a group of protesters who had temporarily blocked traffic on one direction of Piedmont Avenue.

A 27-year old tree-sitter, who goes by "Huck" said in a phone interview that he was prepared to be forcibly removed.

"We're gonna stand here and stand for what we believe," he said.


Will Kane is the city news editor. Contact him at [email protected]

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