On 7:00am Feb 19th, 2008 I received the following email from the protesters
Please come down to the Oak Grove RIGHT NOW. The police are trying to remove all the tree sitters from the trees. This is a potentially disastrous situation and we need you to be there RIGHT NOW. Get there as soon as you can. Please.
Well, OK, but by the time I got it, and got out there it was more like 9:30, so you'll basically see the aftermath. Especially since the raid had started an hour before that email was sent out.
That's all I knew when I headed out there, but I may as well cut to the chase and fill everybody else in. Here's the sfgate article (which has some nice pictures) - key quote...
UC police brought in an arborist at dawn today to snip ropes and dismantle a wooden platform [...]
The arborist climbed into the grove at about 6 a.m. and cut most of the ropes connecting the half-dozen platforms the tree-sitters have built in the foliage. The arborist also took down one of the platforms, which was uninhabited. In the process, a bucket of human waste fell about 60 feet to the ground.
There were no arrests, and a university spokesman said police moved in because the protest appears to be winding down.
...and the version from the protesters in a followup email...
Today at 6am, UC Police ascended into the oak grove trees and cut down many food and water containers along with several sleeping platforms, a vast number of climbing ropes, tarps, and waste buckets. Although UC Police did not directly assault any tree-sitters this morning, the action represents UC Police's attempt to tighten the noose, cut off tree-sitters from community member support and supplies. Cutting down the ropes, tarps, platforms and other equipment makes life vastly less safe for the tree-sitters.
In response, the Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks issued a special invitation:
"Please join us for a special resupply effort - to help replace what the tree-sitters lost - tomorrow (Wed) at 4:30pm. We hope to see you there. Let's help the tree-sitters live comfortably, peacefully, and safely in the trees."
OK, well, whatever, but point being some stuff was cut down, but nobody agrees how much. I also was told on the scene that at least a couple of people were arrested, but that could easily be BS. The cops just said "we cut some lines" and wouldn't elaborate.
Approaching the oaks. The cluster of people are mostly people attracted by the email. The garbage and stuff is typical Berkeley.
Getting close! It's not a native burial ground, by the way, that's just fluff.
OK, well, a majority of the stuff seems up there.
Media - even some of the vehicles that aren't obviously media trucks are from radio.
There's still folks in the trees - trying to haul things back up and do repairs.
The crowd on the ground.
The media were still doing interviews but most of them were done and packing away gear for the trip home.
Some folks were hanging out in an oak in the middle of the street. There's a planted strip between the two lanes, and the landscaping matches the landscaping in the oak grove - so mostly oaks, but a few other trees. They're clearly planted because they're all in a line.
More of the planted strip, media and the oak grove behind it. If I make it back tomorrow I'll try for a shot that really shows the strip.
For a while I'm just going to show some of the folks working up there, no real commentary needed. These are all massive crops - no long lens today and as you can see I often had to shoot right through the fence and branches and so forth anyway. The media types had access through at least one layer of fence, but we citizen journalist types just muddle along as best we can.
Note the stuff looks like it's fallen down - but I'm not sure if that's because it's cut or it's more of a sun screen or whatever.
This guy was trying to argue with some cops who frankly had heard it all before. He claimed to be an Oakland school teacher - yes, this was a school day.
So all and all, kind of a weird thing for UC to do. I expected to see them with a crane hauling down all that crap that's still up there. Why have the nerve to cut a few lines but not to just pull down everything? "I know, let's do just enough to galvanize support!" It will be interesting to see what the result of all this is, but at least things are moving again, after over a year into this protest.
Update: Pictures of the resupply the next day. Lots of good pictures of the tree sitters - the light was much better, and hardly any were covering their faces.
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