Unlawful Arrests, Reckless Tactics Used Against Peaceful Activists
Berkeley – The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) condemns the irresponsible and dangerous actions of the University of California Berkeley and campus police against the peaceful tree-sitters and their supporters.
The tree-sit will celebrate its one year campaign anniversary on December 2, and the NLGSF will host a press conference at 11:30 a.m. on that day at the Memorial Grove. Speakers will include Attorneys Dennis Cunningham, Hunter Pyle, Tony Serra, and Carol Strickman.
The University has been trying to destroy the Memorial Grove of 38 native oak trees near Memorial Stadium and adjacent to Piedmont Avenue. The grove is a native Coast Live Oak ecosystem that would normally be protected by a law passed by the City of Berkeley. It is part of a sacred Ohlone burial site and, along with the stadium, serves as a memorial to Californians who died in World War I.
In October Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller ruled that the tree sitters and "all other persons acting in concert" must come down or face fines and jail time. NLGSF members who are representing some of those arrested at the Memorial Grove report that police are taking an overbroad reading of Judge Keller's order.
"They are using the phrase 'acting in concert' as an excuse to arrest anyone who is providing support to the tree sitters," said Berkeley Attorney Carol Strickman. "Even those who simply want to voice their support for the tree sitters are being intimidated if not wrongly arrested."
While University officials have said the outcome of the protest is largely up to the people in the trees, the actions taken by UC Berkeley appear to be putting peaceful protesters in danger. Two fences and barbed wire have been erected around the trees, bright lights powered by noisy generators have been directed into the trees at night, and other methods appear intended to starve tree sitters and deprive them of sleep.
"The methods used by the University, law enforcement and private security are putting these activists at great risk of injury and are completely unnecessary," said San Francisco Attorney Dennis Cunningham.
The NLGSF is calling on the University and law enforcement to end their campaign to starve out the tree sitters and deprive them of sleep. The NLGSF further calls on law enforcement to stop using Judge Keller's order as an excuse to arrest and harass tree sitter supporters.