The Memorial Stadium tree-sit sustained its second major casualty Sunday night when one of the protesters fell, breaking an arm and a leg.
Nathaniel Hill fell as he was negotiating a rope line to descend from his aerie to meet his father, who had arrived from the East Coast for a visit, said Zachary Running Wolf.
Hill was the second tree-sitter to suffer a bone-breaking fall. A woman broke her wrist in June when she was climbing a trunk after UC Berkeley Police had removed climbing lines, said Running Wolf.
Meanwhile, student protesters continue to occupy perches in the branches of Science Hill on the UC Santa Cruz campus, where a tree-sit challenging that university’s growth plans was launched last week.
Running Wolf said Berkeley tree-sitters have been in regular contact with their counterparts to the south.
“We are quite impressed by their student participation,” said the Native American activist. Most of the Berkeley tree-sitters haven’t been students, in contrast to those in Santa Cruz, though students have been a small but continuing presence in ground-support activities.
Hill is a former professional lacrosse player and has been a sometime participant in the Berkeley tree-sit for the past 10 months.
In Santa Cruz, hundreds of students turned out for the protest last Wednesday, when a combined police force drawn from campus units in Santa Cruz and Berkeley, bolstered by officers from the Santa Cruz city and county law enforcement agencies, retreated in the face of student action.
The Berkeley protest entered its 347th day Tuesday, almost a year after Running Wolf ascended into the branches of a redwood along the western wall of Memorial Stadium during the predawn hours of last year’s Big Game day.
Campus police have since erected two parallel fences surround the grove that university officials want to fell to make way for a high-tech gym and office complex.
Running Wolf has charged that the site is a sacred burial ground, and conflicting reports state that one or more than a dozen native burials were found during construction of the stadium itself.
One court has already ruled against the protesters—Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller issued a preliminary injunction against the tree-sitters and their supporter team.
In a second case, Judge Barbara J. Miller is scheduled to rule in the weeks ahead on whether construction of the gym complex can move forward.
The City of Berkeley, project neighbors and environmentalists have joined in the second lawsuit.
Running Wolf blamed Hill’s fall on the university’s decision to double-fence the grove, forcing protesters to negotiate ropes strung beneath the trees to make their way out of the enclosure.
University officials contend that the protest is both reckless and illegal and say they want it to end so that construction can begin promptly if Judge Miller rules in their favor.
While university spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the school has no intent to forcibly remove the protesters from their perches, Running Wolf said that he expects the action to occur during the winter break when students have left campus for the Christmas holiday.
Meanwhile, students in Santa Cruz have been holding events at the site of the Science Hill protests, including film screenings, a class in mushroom identification, talks on the university’s Long Range Development Plan and a daily 4 p.m. potluck dinner and gathering.
The Santa Cruz protesters have their own website at lrdpresistance.org.