In late 2007 I made a little tour of Berkeley to see two continual protests - the Marine Recruitment Office and the oak grove. Code pink claims it was constant protests during regular business hours outside the recruitment office but there wasn't anybody outside when I dropped by (they've since changed it to just one day a week). I'll try again when it's warmer. The oaks are a different matter - while I didn't see a single protester, the campus security was out in force and all the junk the protesters had up in the trees was visible.

The deal with the trees is that Cal (UC Berkeley) planted these oaks as a bit of a buffer between the stadium and the street, and they want to expand around the stadium now. And since the oaks are in a wet area and watered they are huge and mossy and look much older than they are, and even though the hills behind the stadium are full of oaks some folks decided it would be cool to prevent them being cut down by living in them. And as a result there have been people living up there for over a year. Nevermind that the whole project may not proceed because of seismic concerns - the Hayward Fault runs under the stadium. As best as I can tell Cal is hoping it will all kind of blow over by the time they're done in the courts, or perhaps they'll lose anyway, so they aren't doing much more than sealing off the area as best they can and making the protesters work a bit to get resupplied.

I have to say that I'm sympathetic with those trying to save the trees in the sense that they're cool trees. But it basically strikes me as being a feel good measure (the courts are where the real action is), some people are/were trying to use it to get into local politics including a mayoral campaign (conveniently inventing a lot of hooey about it being a native burial ground so they could play the race card constantly), and fundamentally it's Cal's property and it's in the nature of a campus to reserve land for later use and then eventually build on it. Campuses are inherently dynamic. And frankly I would rather people have actually been able to enjoy the grove for the last year while things continue in the courts instead of it being filled with litter and human waste. I would also be more sympathetic if similar groves weren't all through the east bay hills anywhere there's enough water.

You can see what it looks like when it's really active and get a better explanation at the zombietime site but I was frankly curious as to what it looks like on a regular day since I hadn't been by this area much in the last year.

They've run double fences along a block or so of Piedmont, including over several sets of steps and paths designed to allow easy access to the stadium from the main part of campus.

You get the idea - it wasn't raining but everything was just kind of sodden and the following sheets of legalease weren't really legible, at least not in a photo.

An overview shot - the crap along the fence appears to belong to the protesters.

Here's some of the stuff next to the fence - signs left over from the last protest? For the next one? Why don't they have some of the security guys or other campus employee just throw this litter away instead of leaving it on the sidewalk?

They've hung signs, and on the right you can see a bit of encampment.

So here you start to see all the stuff up in the trees - water bottles, buckets, who knows what else. I know in past raids the police have seized laptops and various kinds of cooking stuff. They apparently have had propane cookers up there.

There's a serious amount of crap up there. Note that some of these pictures overlap - I don't want to give the sense that this area is bigger than it actually is.

Notice that this is on the sidewalk so the drivers can't see it. Typical Berkeley pointlessness.

Um, yeah.

This is at the far end looking back - the guys in yellow are security that hang out between the two fences. I saw at least a half dozen of them.

There looked to be roughly three little sub-encampments, presumably based on which trees are big enough to support shantys.

Nothing new in this shot but it shows the banners nicely.

And that's really about it. I'll have to drop by on some day when they're staging something larger, see how it compares. As I said, I didn't see a single actual person up there but it was cold and wet and I wouldn't exactly have been up and about if I lived in a tree, either!

 



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