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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Environment & Forest Defense | Police State and Prisons
Climbers in Oak Trees NOW To Remove Tree-Sitters
Court Decision in UCB Oak Grove Expected Tomorrow June 18
Berkeley, CA-At least five hired contract climbers are up in the branches of the oak trees in the threatened oak grove on UCB campus to take down tree-sitters the day before the decisive court ruling is expected. Police are cordoning off the area with barricades as oaks supporters are converging on the site. The climbers and a large contingent of police arrived about 6:30 a.m. The situation is unfolding rapidly.
Oak Grove supporters were expected to gather early Wednesday morning to await word of the decision. The grove is located in the 2000 block of Piedmont Ave in Berkeley, one block north of Bancroft Way.
A campaign to save a grove of mature coast live oak trees from University of California’s (UCB) axe that blossomed when a couple intrepid activists climbed high into the branches and set up tree-sits that have lasted over a year and a half has come to a head. Judge Barbara Miller will announce her decision in the long-standing court case on Wednesday, June 18 (NOTE: It is possible it will be announced today, Tuesday June 17 but is felt to be more likely tomorrow).
Superior Court Judge Miller’s decision comes 9 months after a long trial of cases filed separately by the City of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hills Association, the California Oaks Foundation, Save the Oaks organization, and other individuals, but joined together by the judge. At issue in the case is whether the University can legally proceed with their massive development plans linked to the Memorial Stadium, long recognized as needing earthquake retrofit. That year and a half has seen lawsuits filed against protesters by the University, police actions, national media attention, recognition of the site as a Native burial ground, with community support for protection of the grove and the tree-sitters growing progressively stronger despite UCB’s massive PR campaign.
After the tree-sits were launched on Dec. 2, 2006, the campaign became iconic of protection of sacred sites and Native burial grounds in addition to the ecological issues, including the biological link the grove represents in the urban-wildlands interface. The site is also adjacent to the active Hayward fault. Moreover, it is illegal under City of Berkeley ordinance to cut mature coast live oak trees.