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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Environment & Forest Defense | Police State and Prisons
Muwekma Direct Action
The University has stepped up it's repression of the People's park, Muwekma tree sit.
Imagine being homeless, and unable to locate a place to sleep the previous, cold and rainy night, going to Peoples Park, in the morning when they open, to finally get some rest. Now imagine Peoples Park official Devon, with assistance from UCPD forces, throwing away (into locked dumpsters) your sleeping bag, or backpack, on grounds that "you had too much stuff in the park." This is just one horrendous example of the current circumstances faced within--under University of Berkeley, California ownership and jurisdiction--so called "People's" park.
A few days ago a homeless man, outraged at having found his backpack gone and tossed away, screamed at Devon with the question: "How would you like it if I came into your house and threw away all your belongings?" Devon was, as usual, indifferent. A friend of mine told me a story, recently, about a homeless man who had his backpack thrown away with his birth
certificate in it. These are some of the people in "People's" park.
Across the street, on the Harrison st. side of the park, student dorms are currently under construction, the incessant noise of the bulldozers, a sad, frustrating reminder of what's to come. And if you have any doubts about that pending future closing in on People's park, then I recommend you look at the number of trees the University has cut down recently, coupled with the huge propaganda campaign portraying the park as riddled with monstrous, drug addicted thieves waiting to rob or kill anyone near its vicinity. The Berkeley Daily Californian, a UCB paper, is there at the helm, defining the framework for coverage, by all the local mainstream news sources, of what appears as a dark, treacherous area, infecting our otherwise proud and gleaming city of Berkeley, needing to be expunged.
In response there has been several outcries by people, unfortunately marginal, calling for taking up initiative to stand up to the University, as well as ongoing attempts at raising the awareness of students, and other outsiders, as to what is actually happening in People's park. More recently a tree sit, near the far left corner of the park, has been taken up by those of us incensed at the University, and city of Berkeley's deception and hegemony. Those involved in the tree sit agreed to adopt the name Muwekma (Ohlone for people) as an alternative name for the park. Thus far, UCPD reaction has been clear: do not disobey, or even attempt to question UC authority. Initially one of the tree sitters had climbed down from one of the trees, temporarily left for about an hour or so, and returned to find that his hammock and everything situated in the tree was gone. Since then, police harassment had, during the first few or so weeks, consisted mostly of intimidation tactics: like constantly shining a light on the tree sitter, parking police cars near the tree, or physically coming up to the area with questions such as: "is everything all right here?" or "how's everything going?" More recently, however, the University has stepped up it's aggression.
A man by the name of Jacob has, since he arrived in Berkeley a few weeks ago, been a particularly steadfast supporter of the tree sit, taking constant watch of potential police attempts to attack or dislodge the action. Keeping an eye out late into the night, Jacob has more than once broken People's park curfew (beginning at 10pm at night) by standing, and even sometimes sleeping under the tree, much to the annoyance of UCB police authorities. Despite his constant presence, Jacob just suddenly disappeared a couple days ago. We strongly suspect he must have been arrested, but unfortunately no one knows his last name in order to check. Of course, even though they probably performed the arrest, the UC police, who regularly patrol the particular area, are not the ones to get an honest answer from. Further, the police recently took a banner from the tree sit, and police presence in area has steadily been increasing. Recently, a person I know from the tree sit noticed that, while he was in another area, had a patrol car continuously drive around him over and over again.
Right now, we need much more involvement in the tree sit, and the movement to protect People's park. The University doesn't want that; the Berkeley city council doesn't want (or else doesn't care) about it; Berkeley landowners, and developers don't want such a scenario; The Berkeley Business Association doesn't want this to happen; and the UCB, and Berkeley city police, who maintain these elites, certainly doesn't want any resistance from anyone. But what do "people" really want? What do you want?