Berkeley tree-sit ends after 21 months

Four protesters descended from a redwood at UC Berkeley Sept. 9, after 21 months—648 days—of occupying a contested campus grove. Protesters sought to stop construction of a $124-million athletic center, but a court injunction on the construction was recently lifted. All four tree-sitters were arrested, though campus officials said no felony charges would be filed. Five protesters were also arrested on the ground, charged with offenses including battery and resisting arrest. The tree-sitters’ tree—one of a collection of 42 oaks, redwoods and others that protesters sought to save—is scheduled to be felled immediately.

Doug Buckwald, a spokesman for Save the Oaks, which had sued to stop the construction, said that his group would continue to press the university on environmental issues related to the athletic center. “When people see people standing up and taking a stand, it gives them the courage to envision possibilities in their own places,” he said. “And I saw that in the oak grove.”

A statement from Save the Oaks—not noted in the New York Times account—says: “The treesitters agreed to come down voluntarily, and University representatives agreed that they would make a public statement that the University will create new ways for the community to be involved in land use decisions going forward. What form precisely that will take is yet to be determined.” (NYT, Sept. 10; Save the Oaks)

See our last post on the struggle in Berkeley.