These are from Thursday, August 21st, 2008 in Berkeley, CA.
Before we really get onto the tree sit which is the bulk of the report I just want to make a note about the Code Pink/World Can't Wait protests at the USMC OSO (Officer Selection Office). As reported August 11th at the Berkeley Marine Sanctuary blog the Code Pink crowd has mostly given up. OK, they'll have some people on a special occasion like an anniversary, and they've had a summer intern out there for hours with a half dozen signs but zero support, but basically this is what you see. Keep in mind this is lunchtime, mid-week - as busy as it ever gets there.
Yep, nobody. That's the parking meter that used to say no parking at such and such a time - it was the reserved code pink spot. The city let it expire and hasn't renewed their special permit yet. No apology to the troops, mind you, but they've pretty much hung code pink out to dry and it took the wind out of their sails.
And from the side just in case somebody thinks I did careful cropping or something.
OK, back to the tree sit. Cal decided to cut some branches today, so the oaks supporters sent out an alert and I had some time to swing through Berkeley so I took a look. The news has been slow and I hadn't dropped by in a while - basically everybody's waiting to see what happens on appeal - the trees could go down as early as Monday, or it might be years, who knows. There's only around three or four sitters left in the actual trees, but there's also a camp along the street so there's at least some supporters around at all times.
The city's blocked off the street, yet again.
Those are city police, not UC police.
One of the folks who is using the tree sit to promote his own self interests is a guy who's always running for mayor. Keep in mind this is all getting settled by the courts - the tree sit is totally meaningless. Those 44 trees will live or die according to the law, not what these guys think. But some local activists or wannabe activists are trying to use this to build their street cred.
There were a few supporters that showed up, but not a lot. Some of those are media - I'll point them out in more detail in a moment.
I was frankly rather surprised that not only is the God Pod still up (aka Dumpster Muffin's Perch) but they've added to it. Note that's not DM - as far as I can tell only guys are left in the trees.
More encampment stuff. I don't know why they don't clear it all out - maybe it's on city land, not UC land - the details of how all that stuff works is fairly arcane.
Typical - both filthy and they're leaving food out so any of the animals around will get even more dependent on humans. Now imagine you're a student who has to walk past this every day. Will you be pro-tree sit, or do you just want the hippies gone?
Yep, 629 days. Maybe a half dozen people in the trees at any one time, plus ground supporters - how many person-years have been wasted on this? I know the city and the UC have spent about a million dollars on security and lawsuits and the UC has lost way more than that in construction overruns because of the delay. During this time many square miles of trees have burnt in California's annual wildfires. One of the reasons that the tree sit doesn't have wide support even in Berkeley is that they'd rather see the money and effort go to a "good cause" - homeless, the war, etc.
For a bit more context as to how big UC Berkeley is and how important 44 trees are - they have almost that many people competing or coaching at the Olympics (41 last I saw). Heck, they have 20 Nobel Prize winners. The campus is 6,651 acres and heavily planted - there are huge numbers of trees on campus alone, let alone the fact that the east bay hills are covered with them. That's why they have to invent fluff like saying it's a native burial ground (it isn't) - because the grove pretty much looks like the rest of campus. Which isn't surprising since it's a 1920s landscaping project.
You can never have enough signs handy.
People who should know better, part I.
People who should know better, part II.
People who should know better, part III.
You can see they've built quite a lot of crap back into the main tree they can still access (enough branches have been cut it's very hard for them to move around). It's not totally obvious from a still shot but you can see two people in this picture. I saw as many as three at once moving around but some folks seem to think there are four up there. UC removed quite a few branches (you could hear the chainsaws) with permission from the judge but I didn't see them really trying to do anything to the tree sitters. I heard that at some point in the day they removed some of this stuff but didn't try to get the tree sitters out (other than by asking politely, which somehow didn't work).
Basically people were just killing time. Given the hysterics that you usually see here when branches are being cut it was all pretty low key.
Who's that on the left?
Yay! Dumpster Muffin (aka Amanda Tierney)! She was a tree sitter until she voluntarily left, complaining of exhaustion. Turns out she had multiple warrants out for theft and spent some time in Santa Rita (a local prison) but she's obviously out now.
Well, how nice for her.
Here's the media guys - sitting around talking to each other which frankly is how they spend 99% of their time, at least in my experience.
Bye for now, tree guy!
I usually obscure license plates, but I thought people might enjoy this.
I'll drop by if anything major happens, but that's what it looks like today and how I expect it to look for a while longer, anyway. According to the college they basically just wanted to do some prep work for the sitters eventual removal before the students come back to school and everything gets a bit crazy around campus. Upcoming dates of interest are August 25th (the appeal judge has the first hearing and could drop the injunction against large scale cutting) and August 30th (first home football game).
You can contact me at info (at) ProtestShooter.com