Berkeley tree-sitter injured in West Bank

March 17, 2009 12:22:26 AM PDT
An Oakland man was hit by a tear gas canister, fired by Israeli soldiers, in a village on the West Bank. locally, he spent time as a tree-sitter, as part of the Berkeley Oak Grove protest last year.

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Those who know Tristan Anderson say he's devoted most of life to the causes he believes in.

Now, the 37-year-old Oakland man is fighting for his life in a Tel Aviv hospital after being hit in the head by a tear gas canister.

Anderson was among demonstrators protesting the construction of a wall on the West Bank, injured when the Israeli military tried to disburse the group.

Anderson's girlfriend, Gabrielle Silverman, was at his side last year during the Berkeley protest. On Friday night she was at the hospital in Tel Aviv and spoke to ABC7 by phone.

"They operated on him, and found that his skull was fractured and there are fragments of his skull in his brain," said Silverman.

His friends in oakland say he's been demonstrating in the West Bank for the past few months.

"He knows how Israel has been treating people, so I wouldn't say he went into this with his eyes closed he knew what was possible," said Jake Sternberg, Anderson's friend.

Akiva Tor is with the Israeli consulate in San Francisco.

"There were protests near West Ni'lin in a closed military area on Friday. There was much stone throwing on Israeli troops. They reacted with tear gas, non-lethal force, standard munitions used by police forces all over the world," said Tor.

Hashim Ahmed is a professor of politics at St. Mary's College and lived on the west bank for many years.

"To shoot at peaceful demonstrators in such a really savage way is really disheartening and they should be brought to justice," said Ahmed, Ph.D.

Author and activist Matthew Taylor got to know Anderson last summer, when they both participated in the Berkeley tree sit, the 21-month demonstration against the University of California's plans to remove a grove of oak trees and replace them with a new athletic training facility.

Anderson was known then as "Cricket."

"My hope is that Tristan will be seen as a hero, for people who are defensive, poor and for people whose land is being stolen," said Taylor.

When not demonstrating around the world, Anderson works as a convention installer in the Bay Area.

Anderson could very well die from his injuries. And even if he does recover, his friends doubt he'll ever be the same, physically and mentally.

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