Price to Pay

Tree-sitters should pay fines, facing a legal consequence for defying the court order banning the protest.

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Actions occur and consequences naturally follow. The 21-month tree-sit at the oak grove by Memorial Stadium came to a climactic end more than two weeks ago. But the aftermath is just beginning, and dealing with the protesters' actions is part of the story.

On Oct. 29, 2007, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller issued an order forbidding the tree-sit. Needless to say, the protesters disrespectfully tossed it aside, occupying the branches for 10 months after the order was instated.

For their flagrant defiance of the law, the tree-sitters need to face the appropriate end result. One possibility is jail time, but it would be a stretch to characterize these individuals as dangerous criminals who should be incarcerated or rehabilitated. Another possibility, paying fines makes more sense in these circumstances.

The potential thousands of dollars that the tree-sitters would have to pay is a reasonable demand, especially in light of the $1.5 million spent on security measures by the university. Although the penalty fees for the tree-sitters pale in comparison, it would drive home the message that illegal protests will not be tolerated.

Although the judge's order requires the fine to be paid to the court, it might be worthwhile to consider allocating that amount to future environmental projects, including the planting of three trees for every one that was cut down. And if the ground supporters of the tree-sit are truly loyal to the cause, they would help raise funds to pay off the fine, even chipping in from their own pockets.

In the end, it's not about vengeance on the part of the university. It's about holding the tree-sitters accountable for their illegal actions.

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