Police making progress with tree-sitters


About 10:30 p.m. Thursday, police coaxed down one of the protesters from a telephone pole next to Memorial Stadium. It was a peaceful arrest. This tree sitter goes by the name "Cricket." he wears a half-rabbit, half-skunk outfit. His fellow protesters say he's been in and out of the trees for the past year and a half. His days in the branches are now over as police try to coax out the remaining few.

It was another night on the barricade line for U.C. Berkeley Officers and about a dozen supporters of the campus tree-sitters. A lot of small talk and conversation, but it was also very peaceful. Earlier on Thursday, there was an aerial negotiating session between U.C. Berkeley Police Chief Victoria Harrison and a tree sitter known as Dumpster Muffin, who held a tree top news conference to talk about her chat with the chief.

"I told her we're not coming down until these trees are saved, and that's final," said Dumpster Muffin, a tree sitter.

Police put up barricades along Piedmont Avenue, shutting down one lane of traffic in front of Memorial Stadium. Late Thursday afternoon, they also removed and arrested one of the tree sitters. Earlier on Thursday, they took into custody one of the demonstrators who was along Piedmont Avenue.

The protesters continue to put on an optimistic front after a judge's ruling that the university still needs to adhere to earthquake safety laws before building a new athletic center alongside the stadium.

"I think the University needs to sit down and decide we should obey the law. We should follow the judge's ruling in this case, just like we expect other people to do," said Doug Buckwald from Save the Oaks.

Officials from Berkeley say that will be no problem.

"The judge has requested additional information about the impacts of non-football events sometime in the future of the stadium. Meaning not about the construction, but the use of the stadium itself. And we're going to be happy to provide her with that information," said Dan Mogulof from UC Berkeley.

Protesters say they will not give up unless U.C. Berkeley agrees in writing that it will never cut down the trees, something the university has said is not possible.

"The university has made it loud and clear they fully intend to cut these trees, in spite of any court ruling and in spite the community outreach. We're making it louder and clearer, this is not going to happen," said AYR, Protester.

Berkeley police say there are eight tree sitters left. Most of them are in one of the giant redwoods next to the stadium. Police say they plan on being on the scene throughout the night to make sure no outside supplies like food or water get to the remaining tree sitters. And they plan on staying for as long as it takes to deal with the situation and until they decide on a different game plane to deal with the protesters.

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