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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Education & Student Activism | Environment & Forest Defense | Global Justice and Anti-Capitalism | Police State and Prisons
Occupy the Farm - Take Back the Gill Tract, Day One, Earth Day 2012: photos
On April 22nd, Earth Day 2012, hundreds of environmental and food sovereignty activists marched from the Earth Day rally at Ohlone Park in Berkeley to the Gill Tract at the intersection of San Pablo and Marin Avenues in Albany. These 10 acres contain the last best farmland in the urbanized East Bay, but the University of California intends to sell much of it to private developers so that a shopping center with a Whole Foods grocery store and a parking lot can be built. Immediately upon arrival, people began to clear and till the land. Within a few hours thousands of seedlings had been planted on about an acre of the tract. Dozens of tents went up overnight and the encampment continues to grow. Organizers are asking supporters to tell friends, bring supplies, and learn what urban farming is all about.
[Pictured above: Pancho urges those gathered at Ohlone Park to "disobey with great love" for the earth and social justice]
UC police arrived within an hour of the march reaching the Gill Tract and announced that those present were trespassing and enforcement might come after 10pm. When informed of the presence of families with children, the two UC officers said plenty of notice would be given before any possible police action. The officers also said that journalists covering the farming would not be arrested. About two hours later, one of the two officers returned and notified people present that they were subject to arrest and fines. Another UC officer was with him videorecording ever person they passed, as well as recording license plates of cars on the property and in the vicinity.
While no arrests have been made, UC shut off the water to the farm on Day Two, threatening the life of the new seedlings. Those gathered at the tract remain committed to realizing a large community farm on the tract.
Occupy the Farm
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Melvin Dixon's talk includes a reading of the tenth point in the Black Panther's Ten-Point Program, which concludes with the first two paragraphs of the U.S. Declaration of Independence:
10. WE WANT LAND, BREAD, HOUSING, EDUCATION, CLOTHING, JUSTICE, PEACE AND PEOPLE'S COMMUNITY CONTROL OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY.
Bicycles "cork" the intersection of San Pablo and Marin Avenues to clear the way for approaching march
Many creeks in the East Bay have been channeled into man-made underground pipes -- as has this one in other sections. Codornices Creek runs along the southern border of the entire property.
Seedlings are shown to the two UC police with assurances that no marijuana will be grown.
Hundreds of seedlings ready to go on the reclaimed "property of the regents of the university of california"
UC police return with sterner warnings and a camera (livestreamer in background records police camera)
Banner reads: Occupy the Farm - Take Back the Tract