Early on Tuesday morning, over 100 riot police descended on People’s Park in Berkeley, California to make arrests and clear out a small protest encampment and tree sit that had been erected to defend the park in the aftermath of tree removal on December 28th. Police, directed by UC Berkeley bureaucrats, are hoping to both develop the area where People’s Park sits and ultimately take back a piece of land that was liberated by a series of popular riots and land occupations starting in the late 1960s.
The recent protest encampment, which at times grew to include up to 50 people, according to Berkeleyside, was started after UC Berkeley began the process of cutting down and removing trees in the forest part of People’s Park in late December. During that initial attempt, protesters were able to stop the tree removal, but police and city maintenance workers returned again on January 4th. Hoping to finish the job and also squash the growing protest encampment, the city mobilized over 100 riot police in the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 15th, to finish the job.
由 David Joshua Teague 发布于 2019年1月15日周二
According to Bereleyside:
About eight people were sleeping in a small tent encampment that had been set up on the southeast side of the park on Jan. 4, right near where a tree crew had cut down some trees on Dec. 28, according to a UC Berkeley press release.
As PeoplesPark.org wrote, the raid was very fast, as police worked to clear protesters and then surround each tree to allow it to be cut down:
It’s a mess out there. The camp is cleared and the trees are coming down. The police are surrounding each tree as they begin to cut. There is one news van. I called Channel 7 and Marie King called Channel 4. The police have strung caution tape around the entire east end of the Park, Bowditch is closed. They would not allow me to walk up Haste.
People’s Park is autonomous parcel of land in Downtown Berkeley that for decades has led to clashes between local authorities and park stewards and defenders. Originally taken and occupied in the late 1960s, the park was then again retaken by the State who enclosed it with a metal fence. Years later, people again tore down the fence and re-took the land. Into the 1990s, battles ranged as the city again attempted to shut down various aspects of the park while land defenders continued to experiment with its development.
While UC Berkeley claims that the recent attempts at removal are simply part of a standard practice of getting rid of old and dying trees, at the same time they are planning to move ahead with destroying the park and building student housing on the site of People’s Park by 2020. Many local People’s Park defenders think that these recent moves by the university are an attempt to gauge the level of resistance that residents, community members, and park supporters will show to an attempted eviction, as the university pushes forward in its decades long project of smashing the autonomous zone.