Tree sitters overlook Saturday's game

August 30, 2008 1:00:34 AM PDT
Cal fans are ready to launch football season on Saturday with the first game of the season against Michigan State, also watching the kickoff will be the tree sitters.

Cal's marching band warmed up late this afternoon, as Michigan State tested out the field in Memorial Stadium. 60,000 plus fans are expected here for Saturday's kickoff and watching from their crow's nest will be the remaining four Berkeley tree sitters, who talked to ABC7 News via cell phone.

"We can't see the field, but we can see the big giant screen that broadcasts everything," said a tree sitter.
"So you guys will be watching the game tomorrow?" asks ABC7's Leslie Brinkley.
"Ya, ya," said the tree sitters. "I think Cal's going to win it all the way. Ya Bears. Go bears!!!"

Still, the University says angry verbal sparring became a problem last year between tree sitters and Bears fans. For 21 months, the tree sitters have delayed construction of a new athletic center to save the oak grove. Now, they're down to a single tree surrounded by several tiers of fencing. This year, U.C. Berkeley promises what they call a "robust police presence". They've closed three small parking lots adjacent to the stadium to improve access caused by security measures.

"We think emotions are running high on both sides, particularly after the University prevailed in litigation and seem close to beginning construction, so we're going to have the police resources in place to deter any unlawful activity," said University spokesman Dan Mogulof.

Friday, police moved the tree sitters ground support off of university turf and onto public sidewalks.

"Sometimes they tell us we can't be out here barbequing or can't be out here hanging out," said Ayr, who is part of the ground support for the tree sitters.

So they're planning a potluck dinner at game time. They say it's just another tailgater.

"I expect and suspect the football fans will be barbequing a little bit, hanging out," said Ayr.

"I heard 16,000 Spartan alums from across the country are coming to fly in," said Megan Stirrat, a Michigan State fan.

These Michigan State fans hung out tonight at Berkeley's Marina. They're ready to take on the bears, but not tree sitters.

"I haven't heard about it," said Stirrat.
"You don't know about the tree sitters?" asked Brinkley.
"I don't even know. What is it?" asked Stirrat.

The UC Police Chief met on Friday with some of the tree sitters supporters. Both sides say they're predicting an exciting, yet calm day on Saturday.


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