Supporters Celebrate Impact of Tree-Sit

Photo: Three of the four tree-sitters who were removed from their redwood last week speak at a press conference yesterday outside the oak grove.
Chris Chung/Photo
Three of the four tree-sitters who were removed from their redwood last week speak at a press conference yesterday outside the oak grove.

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Tree-Sitters Reflect on Their Time in the Oaks

Former tree-sitters and tree-sit supporters discuss their experiences with the protest.

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More than a week after four tree-sitters were forcibly removed from the oak grove near Memorial Stadium, protest leaders and supporters convened near the site yesterday to celebrate the impact of the longest urban tree-sit in history.

Three of the four tree-sitters-Armando "Mando" Resendez, 20; Ernesto Trevino, 18; and Raul "Huck" Colocho, 27-were present, having all been released from Santa Rita County Jail within the last week.

Michael "Shem" Schuck, 26, is still in jail. Schuck was also known as "Fresh" when he sat in a tree near Wheeler Hall last spring in protest against the UC Board of Regents.

Colocho said that people frequently misunderstand the significance of the protest because they fixate on one particular aspect of it.

"It's kind of a shame looking back here now," Colocho said. "Part of it was about the trees and it was really devastating to see them go, but gladly we have so many issues here that need to be addressed and hopefully will be addressed in the future. We still have a lawsuit that's in appeals court."

Erik "Ayr" Eisenberg, the tree-sit's unofficial spokesperson, said that supporters bailed out three of the tree-sitters. Schuck's bail is set at $15,000.

At the gathering yesterday, a tree-sit supporter who goes by "Dumpster Muffin" thanked those who supported the 648-day-long protest against UC Berkeley's plan to construct a $124 million student athletic facility on the site of the oak grove.

"Through the last 21 months, the community has shown endless resilience, determination, compassion and courage in the face of brutality and political repression," she said. "I'm endlessly thankful for the thousands of people who have raised their voices with us."

Last Tuesday, the final four tree-sitters were escorted down from their redwood tree and arrested, drawing national media attention. Since the protest began on Dec. 2, 2006, hundreds of people have spent time in the trees. Campus officials have said that security measures have cost $1.5 million.

Now that the university has cleared nearly all of the trees from the site, it is planning to begin construction of the athletic training center, as well as the retrofit of Memorial Stadium.

Eisenberg called his participation in the protest an "honor."

"It's obviously disappointing that the trees are gone. It's also good to know that we've inspired millions of people around the globe," he said. "I'm honored to be a part of it and that's something they can never take away from us."

Zachary RunningWolf, the protest's unofficial leader, said the Native American community is looking into filing a lawsuit against the university for desecrating a sacred burial site.

Looking back on his more than one-year-long stint as a tree-sitter, Resendez said he has "no regrets at all."

"I wouldn't change any of it," he said.


Contact Alex Gong at [email protected]

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