Friday, December 5, 2008


The Berkeley University of California was founded in 1868 . It boasts of 61 Nobel Laureates affiliated with the University as faculty, researchers and alumni.This includes our very own Amartya Sen.
But my story is not all these but of the Sunderlal Bahugunas and Vandana Shivas of California who have fought to protect the trees in the University Campus from destruction to make way for an athletic training facility. The agitation started in December 2006.

A group of people climbed up the trees and stayed there for weeks as negotiations went on with the University authorities. In the latest discussion a Police Official--a Lady--was hoisted up in a specially erected scaffolding and held parleys with the protesters. They were arrested and jailed.The final agreement was that for every tree cut three trees would be planted. Now read on a newspaper report.


UC Berkeley tree-sitters end their protest

Four men come down from a redwood after reaching an agreement to end the long-running protest. Campus police Chief Victoria Harrison negotiated with them while dangling in a basket lifted by a crane.
September 10, 2008

BERKELEY -- Four tree-sitters who had hoped to save a grove of trees at UC Berkeley ended their long-running protest Tuesday and gave up their perch at the top of a 90-foot redwood after workers erected a scaffold to bring them down.The protesters surrendered to police at the top of the seven-story scaffold, where they were handcuffed and escorted down the structure's stairs to the applause of hundreds of onlookers, some of whom voiced support for the four men's cause and some of whom appeared happy that the 21-month protest was finally over.

Later, the redwood was cut down, paving the way for construction of a $125-million athletic training facility on the site next to the campus' Memorial Stadium.

"We are extremely pleased that this tree-sit has ended," said Vice Chancellor Nathan Brostrom. "Today's operation was brilliant both in the design and the execution."Protesters had occupied trees in the 1.5-acre grove since December 2006 in an effort to block the university's plans to build on the site.Over the course of the protest, hundreds of people spent time in the trees, some for days, some for months. Those involved argued that the trees, many of them 85-year-old oaks, should be preserved because the grove was one of the few natural areas on the campus.After a state appeals court ruled Thursday that construction could go forward, the university moved quickly to cut down more than 40 trees, isolating the four remaining tree-sitters in the redwood.On Tuesday morning, a company hired by the university began erecting the scaffold and by early afternoon it had reached the tree-sitters' platform about 70 feet off the ground. The four men then climbed even higher on the tree as workers and campus police dismantled the platform and threw the men's bedding and other possessions to the ground.Meanwhile, UC Berkeley Police Chief Victoria Harrison rode up in a basket suspended from a crane to speak with the men.Harrison said later that she had encouraged them to end their protest peacefully and walk down the scaffold, rather than endanger themselves and the police by resisting arrest at the top of the tree."I talked to them a lot about coming down with some dignity," she said.If the protesters had not surrendered, Harrison said, workers would have continued building the scaffold until police were able to seize them.The police chief said that the four were easy to talk to and that by the end they were bantering back and forth with her. She described them as "very skilled individuals" who knew how to maneuver in the treetops.On the ground, protest leader Eric Eisenberg, who goes by the name Ayr, announced that the protesters had reached an agreement with the university and said officials had committed themselves to finding new ways to work with the community on land use issues.But Brostrom, who spoke to the tree-sitters by cellphone, said later that the university had made no such deal. The university is already committed to improving relations with the community, he said.The four tree-sitters will be charged with trespassing and violating a court order. At least one may be charged with battery for allegedly assaulting a worker during an earlier tree-trimming operation.Police identified the four as Michael Schuck, 26, who went by the name Shem; Armando Resendez, 20; Ernesto Trevino, 18; and Raul Colocho, 27, who went by Huck. None of the men are students at the university, officials said.

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