THE SHORT STORY:
TreeSpirit photographer Jack Gescheidt here. With sadness I relay news of today’s events from the Memorial Oak Grove in Berkeley, site of two of my TreeSpirit Project photos. At 6AM today, Tuesday, June 17, the university (UC Berkeley) sent in over 40 police officers and hired arborists to remove structures and cut supply lines the tree sitters use to get food and water and remove waste with. Both sides of this conflict agree UC did this today in preparation for tomorrow’s (Wed. June 18) court case ruling, due anytime after 9AM.
If you support the tree sitters and their 18-month-long peaceful, dramatic, successful attention-getting civil disobedience designed to spare a grove of oak trees from the axe (to make way for a proposed gym 100 yards from the Hayward earthquake fault), now is the time to pay a visit to the oak grove. There is a candlelight vigil in the grove tonight (Tuesday).
Join us tomorrow, Wednesday, June 18, there is a large gathering of supporters from 9AM on. Please come to show your support for this historic environmental demonstration.
DIRECTIONS to the grove off Piedmont Ave in Berkeley, one block north of Bancroft Way: http://saveoaks.com/SaveOaks/Find%20The%20Grove.html
I suggest, as always, a strong, peaceful support of trees and tree-loving demonstrators. We are exercising our American rights of free speech and nonviolent demonstration. For every person with the courage to put his or her body up in a tree, there are hundreds who have supported them on site and thousands more who support them from afar. We people with a deep and abiding love for trees and nature and animals are actually in the majority. As we act from our hearts, and with conscience, to tread more lightly on Mother Earth, we can make a difference and inspire others to safely join us in expressing our deepest beliefs.
Come on out and be the change you wish to see in the world. Your openhearted presence, especially as witness to conflict if it occurs, will make a difference.
More about this complex landmark case is on the SaveOaks.com website: www.saveoaks.com/SaveOaks/Main.html
The LONGER Story (more if you want it): The university repeatedly claims that the tree sitters should stop, get down and go away; that they’ve made their point, that their actions are inappropriate, or have gone on too long, or break campus rules against trespassing, or is even somehow a threat to public safety. Of course they would make just about any claims to put an end to this public relations disaster. What large business, public or private—and UC is really now an awkward mix of the two—wants demonstrations on its property that are critical of its large development projects? (Especially one just yards from the active Hayward earthquake fault.)
Claiming tree sitters pose a threat to public safety, and to themselves (!), they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on police and fences and then blamed the tree sitters as if these expenses were necessary. In my humble opinion the UC administration’s response is motivated by a desire for control. They’re afraid if they don’t do something about this demonstration—contain and control it—others might flourish on campus. We certainly wouldn’t want to have all that again at Berkeley! Won’t you young, outraged, passionate and idealistic people just get down, shut up, go away and behave? Stop all this nonsense about trees and tree hugging and global warming; we have a new multi-million dollar gymnasium to build and it can’t possibly go up a few blocks away.
Still, I remain amazed the university doesn’t have the wisdom to exercise restraint. What would happen if a few people were left to sleep up in trees? Wouldn’t they eventually just come down—unless of course you feared the precedent of allowing? Instead, UC continues to build fences, literally and metaphorically, and scores of poor police officers given the unenviable duty of stopping kids from…stopping them from what?…from sitting and sleeping in trees?
I invite YOU kind tree loving people to come show support for these trees and for these brave souls on the front lines who are living in these trees, and for trees everywhere. Let’s wrap a blanket of peaceful support around this contentious situation, so no one on either side gets hurt if tempers flare.
At stake here is much more than meets the eye, which is why this grove repeatedly makes national and international news. In my opinion what’s happening right now in Berkeley is a microcosm for huge issues facing our nation and our planet: When will environmental concerns take priority over concerns for development and profit? The university wants to remove most of these trees in order to build a big gym that can be more safely built elsewhere. A nearby parking lot could be replaced, rather than killing a grove of precious trees. If we as a community show the tremendous value of these trees and trees everywhere, change is possible and a new gym can be built elsewhere.
CBS5.com has this news story on-line: http://cbs5.com/localwire/22.0.html?type=bcn&item=SITTER-REMOVED
Stalwart videographer B Citizen has posted this YouTube video made today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofV6ecpm5rw
The Daily Cal posted this article: http://www.dailycal.org/article/101916/ucpd_attempting_to_take_tree-sitters_down
Judge Barbara Miller is expected to return her decision in the lawsuits against the stadium expansion project tomorrow. UC Berkeley officials have stated that no matter what Judge Miller decides the University will try to end the tree-sit protest—tree sitters are still up there – a few were violently taken out – please come and stand for the trees.
There is a candlelight vigil and all night sleepover is planned for tonight (Tuesday, June 17) thru tomorrow (Wednesday, June 18).
The grove is located in the 2000 block of Piedmont Ave in Berkeley, one block north of Bancroft Way.
The SaveOaks.com people— www.SaveOaks.com — are requesting supporters of this peaceful demonstration go to the grove NOW and support them as you see fit. I strongly advocate peaceful support, needed now more than ever because impatience and frustration and anger are running high on both sides.
Demonstrators have been in the trees since December of 2006. (This 18-month long tree sit is the longest-ever URBAN tree sit in U.S. history.) The university (UCB) wants them isolated and then removed to make way for cutting down many of the trees so a new gym can be built on the site. They say they’ll replace each tree with many young ones but I, like so many other environmentalists, believe this is a public relations story, ignoring the real and tremendous value of mature oak trees. They are undervalued and underappreciated to be sure, providing precious oxygen and shade in a hot city and a haven for numerous humans and mammals and birds and insects. Does anyone think we need fewer trees? Or fewer green spaces in our urban centers? And if we don’t act to save these trees, now, then which trees do we save, and when? Here’s your chance to act locally while thinking globally.
A photographic celebration of our interdependence with nature.