Berkeley tree-sitters upset as arborist trims their roost
Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
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(02-19) 13:11 PST BERKELEY --
UC police brought in an arborist at dawn today to snip ropes and dismantle a wooden platform at the Memorial Stadium oak grove, where tree-sitters have been roosting for more than 14 months to protest the university's plans to remove about 100 trees to build an athletic training center.
The arborist climbed into the grove at about 6 a.m. and cut most of the ropes connecting the half-dozen platforms the tree-sitters have built in the foliage. The arborist also took down one of the platforms, which was uninhabited. In the process, a bucket of human waste fell about 60 feet to the ground.
There were no arrests, and a university spokesman said police moved in because the protest appears to be winding down.
But the action enraged the protesters.
"They cut a s- bucket and it fell to the ground and exploded," said Erik Eisenberg, 39, a leader of the tree-sitters' ground crew who goes by the name Ayr. "They've made things less safe and less sanitary. All they're trying to do is harass and intimidate us."
University spokesman Dan Mogulof said, "There's just a hardcore few left up there. The police felt this was a good, safe opportunity to act, to address some of the public safety and public health issues up there."
A judge is expected to rule by June on lawsuits filed by the tree sitters, the city of Berkeley and neighbors in an attempt to stop the stadium renovation plans.
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