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Interview with UC's Eric Tejada & Dan Mogulof After UCPD Raid on Occupy the Farm: video
It wasn't really an interview with UCPD spokesperson Eric Tejada and UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, as they likely would not grant an individual interview with this reporter. It was an impromptu press conference held behind police lines after a heavily armed UC police department raided the Gill Tract to evict Occupy the Farm in the early morning. At the press conference, ABC7, NBC, KCBS and other corporate news outlets were present along with this Indybay reporter (full video below).
[Pictured above: UCPD Lieutenant Eric Tejada and Dan Mogulof take questions from the assembled media]
Dan Mogulof, as would be expected, placed heavy emphasis on the agricultural research done on the land to justify the forceable eviction of Occupy the Farm. Strangely, in an attempt to demonstrate how supposedly unqualified Occupy the Farm was to have a seat at the table regarding farming on the land, Mogulof drew a comparison between Occupy the Farm and people who do not believe in evolution dictating UC research.
Eric Tejada was vague when discussing why more people were arrested outside than inside the Gill Tract. UCPD arrested seven people for simply being present across San Pablo Avenue from the Gill Tract. Tejada would only say that an "unlawful assembly" was declared, "for whatever reason," and that those arrested had failed to disperse.
Dan Mogulof disingenuously claimed that the confrontation was avoidable because all those interested in farming on the land would have had to do is "pick up the phone" and call the Dean of the College of Natural Resources to learn that he was really interested in urban agriculture and UC would have coordinated "sharing of the property." (While the College of Natural Resources continues to oversee research on the Gill Tract, the university has already transferred ultimate control of the larger property to their Capital Projects division.) Mogulof did not mention commercial interests or privatization of the Albany property.
Dan Mogulof said the university did not intend to tear up all of the crops sown by Occupy the Farm and that a meeting occurred the previous Saturday with the Dean of Natural Resources to begin to work on a plan to preserve "as much as possible of what [occupiers] planted." He said the assessment of what will be saved is ongoing.
When Dan Mogulof was asked by this reporter about the contradiction between UC Berkeley's stated intention to "regain control of its property [from Occupy the Farm] so that it can be used for agricultural research" and UC's master plan for the Gill Tract not including research farming, Mogulof professed that the university was open to discussions with the Albany community on continued use of the land for agriculture.
When pressed on the fact that twice before professors, students, and non-profits have made concerted efforts to get UC to allow community farming, in 2000 and 2005, whereby UC flatly rebuffed their attempts at involvement with the Gill Tract, Mogulof said that it was different now because UC has grown to see the value in urban agriculture. According to Mogulof, it was only because Occupy the Farm was supposedly so unreasonable that UC cut off water to the tract, filed a lawsuit against 14 individuals, ended negotiations prematurely while claiming that Occupy the Farm failed to respond to UC's ultimatum, and finally sent in the police.
Time will tell if UC Berkeley is sincere about working with community groups on preserving the Gill Tract for urban agriculture in perpetuity or if Dan Mogulof was merely kicking the can down the road until the media forgets about UC's current Gill Tract claims. Perhaps Occupy the Farm forced the issue enough that UC will not go back on its word. Based on UC's past disinterest in working with community farming groups, however, chances seem remote that UC will follow through with anything other than its current Master Plan for the land. Never mind the massive militarized police force University of California administrators assembled to re-establish absolute dominance over a few acres of farmland in Albany.
Occupy the Farm
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This reporter walked into the press conference already in progress.
Dan Mogulof can be seen in the distance (photo center) about where press conference was held.