Six demonstrators have been arrested and cited for unlawfully camping at People’s Park in Berkeley in a protest of UC Berkeley’s removal of damaged trees.
The University planned to dozens of trees — which aborists say are in poor condition and health — from the park on Dec. 28 but were met with protesters from the People’s Park Committee and had to defer completion of the maintenance, according to UC Berkeley.
A group of around 10 to 50 protesters established a camp in People’s Park to further delay the process, but camping on university property is illegal, the school said.
The school says it routinely evaluates the condition and health of the trees on its property. “Based on guidance from certified arborists, prunes, removes and replaces trees to reduce the risk of physical injury associated with dropped limbs and tree falls and/or for aesthetic reasons,” UC Berkeley said in a statement.
Demonstrators say that the tents are not an emcampment but a protest. Police cleared the protest camp on Tuesday and the rest of the trees will be cut down, according to the People’s Park Committee and the University.
“Three People’s Park defenders have been arrested — Adam Ziegler, Michelle Lot, and James Cartmill,” the People’s Park Committee said on Facebook.
Police have not released the names of the individuals arrested.
Protesters say they are standing up against the University’s plan to build new residential facility for students and for the construction of permanent supportive housing for the city’s homeless population.
While the University says that the removal of trees have nothing to do with the proposed construction, which is expected to start in the summer of 2020, protesters say that the People’s Park is relative to civil rights and free speech.
The People’s Park currently has civic landmark status with the city but it will end in April. The People’s Park Committee says it is applying for civic landmark status, state and national.
“2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of People’s Park and it would be a horrific shame on the community if the park would be destroyed simply for the sake of student housing, which can be built anywhere,” the protesters said in an online petition, calling for a National Civic Landmark status for the park.
“UCB used eminent domain illegally to displace the original neighborhood and, lacking funds to create yet another student housing unit, created the blight in the first place,” the petition read.
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