Page One

Judge Hits Berkeley Tree-Sitters With Injunction to Leave

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday October 30, 2007

On Monday a Fremont judge granted an injunction that broadens his earlier order, which banished one named tree-sitter, to include all occupants of the trees, as well as to bar their supporters from the Memorial Stadium oak grove. 

The order signed Monday declares that, pending a trial of the university’s request for a permanent injunction, all tree-sitters “are hereby enjoined from lodging in, scaling, climbing, or sitting in or standing on or in, any of the trees.” 

“This doesn’t really change anything,” said Zachary Running Wolf, who kicked off the tree-sit last Dec. 2 when he ascended the branches of a redwood on Big Game Day. 

“We really think today’s ruling will make it all the more difficult to consider this a benign protest,” said Dan Mogulof, executive director of the university’s Office of Public Affairs. “We are hoping that the community and political leadership in Berkeley will help bring an end to this dangerous and illegal occupation.” 

Joined by a collection of other protesters, many of whom have been subjected to occasional trespassing and other arrests by campus police, Running Wolf has been fighting the planned elimination of the grove to make way for the Student Athlete High Performance Center. 

Running Wolf is a Native American activist and a once and future Berkeley mayoral candidate who is currently gathering signatures in an effort to force a recall of incumbent Mayor Tom Bates. 

A partly subterranean four-story complex that will house both a high-tech gym and athletic department offices, the center is the first in a planned series of developments at and near the stadium that are being contested in a second court case. 

The case brought back to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller in Hayward is a follow-up to the judge’s earlier ruling Oct. 1, which restricted a broad injunction sought by the university against the one tree-sitter the school’s lawyer had named in their papers. 

Three days later, university lawyers Charles F. Robinson and Michael R. Goldstein filed a motion for reconsideration, which was the subject of Monday’s action. 

Running Wolf said that at any given time during the day, there are six protesters occupying the perches in the Coast Live Oaks and other trees in the grove. At night, the number rises to about 10, he said. 

“We’re gearing up for an assault by campus police,” he said. “We have heard rumors that they are exercising a training plan to go for an extraction any day now.  

“We are developing our plans to hold our ground,” he said. 

Mogulof said there are no plans for the military-type effort Running Wolf fears. 

He said the course of events depends in part on the outcome of the Hayward case now before Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller, who is being asked to rule on the legality of the process by which the university approved the gym and the other construction projects included in the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects. 

Miller, who must issue a ruling by mid-December, could either pave the way for construction or order a new environmental review process that would continue the status quo at the grove. 

Mogulof said he hopes that the current tree-sitters will follow the lead of David Galloway, the only sitting protester named in the order Keller approved earlier in the month. 

“He’s no longer there,” said the university official. 

But Running Wolf said the protest will continue.