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UC Files Lawsuit Against 14 Individuals Over Gill Tract Occupation
by Dave Id
Wednesday May 9th, 2012 3:48 PM
Before 7am this morning, UC police arrived at the Gill Tract in Albany and swiftly placed concrete barriers at the vehicle entrances to prevent easy resupply for the Gill Tract Farm Collective. Those present were threatened with the use of "chemical agents and impact force" by UCPD. UC followed up later in the morning by filing a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court against 14 individuals it says "conspired to cut locks, enter the property illegally and establish an illegal encampment" (PDF below). The civil suit filed allows for up to 150 "Does" to be added to the complaint. This, despite the fact that Occupy the Farm has not hindered the agricultural research of Professor Miguel Altieri which began today (see Occupy the Farm press release below) and has made good faith efforts to thoughtfully reply to UC ultimatums regarding the farm. Occupying farmers anticipate that a UC police raid could come at any time and are asking for food sovereignty activists and supporters to come to the farm and to be aware of re-convergence plans should a raid occur. A nightlong potluck has been called for tonight.
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Those named are Gopal Dayaneni, Anya Kamenskaya, Devin Murphy, Stefanie Rawlings, Eric Larsen, David Grefarth, Russell Bates, Alejandra Cano, Vaden Dabney, Erik Eisenberg, Elizabeth Fairwearther, Marika Iyer, Nathan Pitts, Gabrielle Silverman, Francisco Stierle, and "DOES 1 through 150."


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Occupy the Farm press release, May 8th:


* PRESS ADVISORY *

Who: University of California Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri

When: Wednesday, May 9th – 8:30 AM

Where: The Gill Tract; Albany, CA

Dr. Miguel Altieri, UC Berkeley researcher, to proceed with research at Gill Tract in solidarity with Occupy the Farm.

UC Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri, who has been a researcher on the Gill Tract for 31 years, will plant his crops tomorrow, demonstrating that research can exist alongside the Farm. He announced his plan at a university community forum, organized by the Gill Tract Farmers Collective, on the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday evening.


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UC press release about the civil suit, May 9th:

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA INITIATES LEGAL ACTION AGAINST GILL TRACT OCCUPIERS

Today the University of California commenced legal action against fourteen individuals alleged to have participated in the illegal occupation of the University’s Gill Tract property. This lawsuit represents an additional step that the University is taking to regain control of its property so that it can be used for agricultural research and education. At the same time, the occupiers still have the opportunity to accept a proposal that would allow for a peaceful end to the illegal encampment, resumption of research activities and the continuation of urban farming on portions of the land that will not be utilized by faculty and students.

The suit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court today, alleges that the defendants, along with other unknown individuals who are sued as “Does,” conspired to cut locks, enter the property illegally and establish an illegal encampment. (There are no current UC Berkeley students among the named defendants.) It alleges that the defendants continue to trespass on the property, despite repeated warnings from the UC Police Department that their presence is illegal. The suit alleges that the defendants’ illegal occupation is preventing research and educational activities on the property and that “if defendants do not leave the property immediately, the growing season will be lost” resulting in substantial harm to researchers, students and the University. The suit requests a court order requiring the defendants to leave the property.

The University is also seeking an award of monetary damages for costs it has or will incur as a result of the trespass and for the rental value of the land during the occupation. The University also seeks payment by the defendants of its attorney’s fees under a state law that allows it to recover fees in a lawsuit involving “trespassing on lands . . . under cultivation.”

This legal action is not the only step that the University is prepared to take to protect the rights of its researchers and students, but it is one part of our efforts to end this illegal occupation. Among other things, it is a means to ensure that the trespassers—rather that the University, students and taxpayers--will bear the substantial expenses resulting from unlawful acts.

A copy of the suit is attached, and here is a link to the statement we released last night in response to new demands issued by the occupiers:

http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2012/05/08/30238/

Best,
Dan

Dan Mogulof
Executive Director, Office of Public Affairs
UC Berkeley
Office: 510642-3715
Cell: 510-919-6954


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For more information about Occupy the Farm, see http://www.takebackthetract.com and

(11-page PDF)
§The Last Class 1 Ag Land in the East Bay
by Dave Id Wednesday May 9th, 2012 3:48 PM
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Farmland Is for Community - Farmland Is for Farming