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Struggle on Science Hill.
by HG (wnortonm [at] ucsc.edu)
Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
Interview with activists, photographs of violence, and a short look at the LRDP brought to you by an unwillingly unemployed and thus angry independant journalist.
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Nov 7 Noontime - a group of students protesting the UCSC’s Long Range Development Plan (LRPD) struggled with police while bringing food and water to a group of about five old-style activists who, using mountain climbing gear, had placed themselves and several wooden platforms inside the upper reaches of several redwood trees.

The march, and chaos.

The police had arrived on the scene early that day and had cordoned off the area on science hill just outside the Science and Engineering Library with tape, plastic fencing, and portable metal barriers.

However, the protest turned ugly when the march circled the enclosure. One protestor speaking with a police officer took a step too close, was told to step back, and was pushed forward by the crowd.

One of the protestors, Jane Olivera, retold what happened next. She had been walking around the enclosure at the front of the march when she saw her friend Robin Speaking with someone who wasn’t part of the protest.

“I came around just to hang out with him and then he moved in a little bit and the cop said ‘ no, no you can‘t do that,’ and then there was a crown of people that followed him as he moved in a little bit, and then he moved in a lot more, and then before I knew it there was a cop on him. They had jumped on him, and tackled him to the floor, and I don‘t like it when my friends get arrested, and so I jumped in because he was using force. He was holding his hands and he was hitting him so I ran in and said ‘no, you can‘t do that‘ and before I knew it one cop threw me to the floor. I flew,” she said. “I had just moved in a little bit. After I had moved in they just got on top of me and started hitting me.”

Olivera sustained multiple bruises and a scratch on her left arm, was arrested, ticketed, and then released on the scene along with the rest of the protestors. No one was hospitalized.

Along with the arrests an indeterminate number of students received blows from batons around the arms and head and were hit with pepper spray. Students pulled down fences and climbed across, the police stepped back while spraying, clubbing, and pushing.

Almost an equal number of students ran towards the fences and away from them. One girl stood rooted to the ground while the metal grate was being lifted by police and pulled away by students.

Later reinforcements arrived in about six to eight squad cars with what appeared to be tear gas and armor. When the officers who were armed were asked about their weapons they did not respond. These officers formed a line across the middle of the grove where they remained for several hours.

Students then read the entirety of ‘The Lorax’ using a megaphone, shouted at the police, and helped bring supplies to the trees where the sitters hoisted up water, food, and blankets.

Olivera and other protesters were released by police officers only a little after the reading of the Lorax. She was scratched and shaken.

“A lot of my friends are organizers and I just don‘t think that development is really a good idea because we can‘t support the number of students we have now and the development is going to stress the water table, the town - there are a lot of reasons outside the trees that makes this not a good idea,” Olivera said. “I don‘t want to go to school inside a cement block.”

The development plan.

The LRDP was approved unanimously by the UC regents in on September 28 ‘06 who had originally drafted the plan three years earlier in 2003. The plan makes way for the development of 120 acres of upper campus, the possible destruction or relocation of the UC trailer park, the addition of 4,500 new students, and the construction of a biomedical sciences facility on what is now a grove of second growth redwood trees.

The district supervisor Mardi Wormhoudt, and the members of the Coalition for Limiting Campus Expansion (CLUE) have been fighting the LRDP. To do this Wormhoudt drafted measures I and J, which made the University responsible for complying with the Local Agency Formation Commission’s (LAFco) guidelines before the City extends water and sewer service to the university, which would, in effect inhibit University growth by preventing the toilets from flushing in whatever buildings the University makes if the guidelines aren’t met. Currently CLUE is engaged in a legal battle over the proposed construction as well.

Jennifer Charles is a UCSC alumna, and the media contact for the protest. She said that campus expansion would decrease the quality of the education that students receive.

“This comes at a time when UCSC is increasing enrollment but really decreasing the quality of education. They’re putting a lot of money towards expansion,” she said. “but not a lot of money for the programs that students need.”

Charles said that the nonexistent ethnic studies program and the now nonexistent journalism minor were two good examples.

“Those are programs that students really want to see. Instead the University is expanding things like the facility planned to be on this site. It‘s an 80 million dollar facility for research that includes live animal testing. It includes no classroom space. The entire building will be used by graduate students and researchers which will probably be funded by outside corporations. And as we‘ve seen at other universities when private corporations are funding research at public insititutions they want control over research.”

Charles said that the LRDP would change the university from a small liberal arts college into a massive science college which would annihilate the feel of UCSC.

“We don‘t want to be UCLI or UCLA or even UC Berkely,” said Charles. “We want to be UC Santa Cruz. We certainly don‘t want to be the UC of the Silicon Valley.”

Tree people.

After the violence, after the chanting, and after the reading of the Lorax the police left. Supplies were hoisted up into the trees. The sitters have climbed the trees and are now living in the branches around science hill.

One of the tree sitters wearing a sweatshirt with a hood and a camouflaged mask came down and refused to give his name or reveal his face. He referred to himself only as Malachi.

Malachi said that the sitters’ voices had not been heard. He said that he and the other tree sitters were going to remain suspended above the ground for as long as it took to change the LRDP “to accommodate all of upper campus and not just corporate interests.”

“We just need support,” said Malachi. “If people want to come up and sit for a few days then they can do that. If they want to come and bring food - day or night - just tell them you‘ve got some food and they‘ll lower a line.”

According to the organizers the tree sitters need blankets, buckets (the ten gallon kind with lids,) portable stoves, and food.

You can learn more about how you can help the sitters by visiting LRDPresistance.org and sending them an E-mail.
§police
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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Chaos broke out at the edge when the fence was taken down.
§bystander
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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A bystander with a cameraphone.
§Peace
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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This is actually my favorite photograph of the batch. I was walking away from the protest because I wanted a shot from the street. Then violence broke out and people started running away, except for this girl; she kept where she was and held a slightly wilting peace sign. It seemed pretty noble when I took it.
§Wash
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
640_wash.jpg
This girl was at the front and she got an eyefull of pepper spray. You can see her in other photographs as well. I had a picture of her face but it didn't come out that well because she tried to get close to me and I was using a zoom lens. Proximity and zoom lenses don't mix.
§runningfence
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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§Pepper spray.
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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I managed to get behind the line and I was being pushed when I took this photo. That's why it's blurry.
§Malachi
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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He only called himself Malachi.
§Olivera
by HG Thursday Nov 8th, 2007 12:28 PM
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Says she scraped her elbow when she was thrown by police.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by UCSC student
Saturday Dec 1st, 2007 6:46 PM
Although I do not think I there is anything wrong with protesting on the UCSC campus, I do think that the tree sitting and occupation on science hill has lost meaning amongst the majority of students on the campus as well as the administrators. The decision to occupy a parking lot area and trash the area like a shanty town worsens the situation. Students need not be aggressive towards police and towards the students who have classes on science hill. The graffiti, vandalism, littering, and intimidation has become a very big problem.

The majority of the publications in City on a Hill Press and Good Times magazines are skewed and very one sided. I personally hope the LRDP reaches it's full potential, and the University continues to remain on the cutting edge of science. But nobody seems to care that many students want the LRDP simply because overzealous townies and students with way too much time on their hands won't hear it.

In covering your face with bandannas, and using intimidation vandalism, and to an extent violence these people are not going to be taken seriously.

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