Only three tree sitters are left

July 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
At U.C. Berkeley on Wednesday, only three tree sitters are still perched in the oak grove scheduled for demolition. Four of the protestors have come down in the last day, more than 18 months after they first climbed the branches. They say they left their posts to conserve food and water for those who are staying behind.

Ever since the university choked off their supplies about two weeks ago, life in the canopy has not been easy. The past heat wave took a lot out of them, and now they're subsisting off a measly diet supplied by the university.

After nearly nine months of living in these trees, 21-year-old tree sitter, Amanda Tierney surrendered, Wednesday. UC Police arrested her for trespassing.

Two weeks ago Tierney was known only as "Dumpster Muffin," standing unharnessed in what they call the "God pod." She screamed defiantly at arborists who began a strangle hold by cutting down their supply lines and platforms.

Tuesday night and earlier on Wednesday, three other tree sitters surrendered and were quickly arrested. Now three remain clinging to a Redwood tree.

"What we have done is create conditions whereby it has become very difficult for them to sustain this illegal occupation of university property. We see today's voluntary climb downs as a sure sign our approach is working," said Dan Mogulof, a UC Berkeley spokesman.

"I'm not going to lie we're suffering up here. These are not ideal conditions, but in order make change and in order to follow your heart and create that world, you got to be able to make sacrifices," said Shem, a tree sitter.

Each day, the university sends up four energy bars for each tree sitter, and about 10 gallons of water, but the tree sitters are growing weak.

"Now they're putting us on a starvation diet with less than a thousand calories, granola bars, and it's creating a very dangerous situation," said Blond, another tree sitter.

When Tierney touched ground, she told police she was having troubles standing up. Wednesday evening, the university says she was released from the hospital with no major health problems, and transferred to the Alameda County Jail.

"And for those in the trees who find the conditions difficult, if they're hungry, if they're tired, if for some reason, despite the fact that we're providing them with water, they're thirsty, the solution is simple. They can just come down," said Mogulof.

Legally, nothing happens until July 17th. That's when the university will ask the judge to lift an injunction so it can take down the trees and build that $140 million sports training complex.

That means the remaining three tree sitters will have to hold out for about two more weeks on energy bars and water.


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