Tree sitter supporter in Oakland court

January 2, 2008 12:04:29 PM PST
An Oakland jury is expected to get the case of a supporter of the Berkeley tree sitters today. They've been living an oak grove at the University of California Berkeley campus for more than a year. They're trying to stop the UC from cutting the trees to make room for a high tech sports facility.

Erik Eisenberg was accused of helping the sitters. He cross examined himself on the witness stand, interrupted time after time by objections, pretty much all of which were sustained. But at times his humor had several members of the jury laughing out loud.

But it is no laughing matter for Eisenberg if convicted of sending up food to the tree sitters, he could get six months in jail. The district attorney is trying to prove that Eisenberg violated an injunction brought by UC Berkeley prohibiting anyone from acting in concert with the tree sitters at the oak grove overlooking memorial stadium.

UC wants to build a sports training facility there, tree sitters and many others say there are other sites that would not destroy 200 year old oak trees.

ABC7 News asked Eisenberg to give a preview of the closing arguments he'll be giving to the jury later today.

"I'm not guilty for several reasons -- first and foremost even if you accept that I did allegedly send food up into the tree-sitters - that is not a crime. We have never lived in a society where its okay to deny food and water to people, it's never a crime to provide people with food and water," said Erik Eisenberg, defendant.

This is not the only litigation underway as a result of the tree-sitters and the planned sports facility. The city of Berkeley, Save the Oaks, the Panoramic Hills Association and others have filed lawsuits, all trying to stop the facility.

A spokesperson for UC Berkeley says Eisenberg broke the law, he's having his day in court and the jury will decide his fate.