The Memorial Stadium confrontation between tree-sitters and campus officialdom heated up Thursday, marked by three arrests and a fence breach.
What began as a late-night gathering of protesters ended up in a heated confrontation between campus police and protesters working to breach the double line of fences surrounding the grove which has been occupied for the last 11 months by tree-sitters.
In the end, two police officers were taken to the hospital to have their eyes washed after one of the protesters reportedly threw a liquid at them and three protesters were taken away in handcuffs.
All three were cited for violating a civil restraining order issued by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller.
In addition, tree-sitter Aleksey Maromy-guin was charged with trespass with intent to damage property and resisting arrest. He was also served with an order to stay off campus for the next seven days.
Nathan Pitts was charged with four counts of battery on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest, while Clara Luna was charged with three counts of battery on a police officer and one count of resisting arrest.
Doug Buckwald, organizer for Save the Oaks at the Stadium, said campus police have escalated confrontation at the grove by trying to “starve out the tree-sitters.”
But Dan Mogulof, executive director of the university’s Office of Public Affairs, said the university is not trying to cut off supplies, and is pursuing the same policies it has for the last several months.
Buckwald is one of the plaintiffs challenging the high-tech gym and office complex the university hopes to build where the grove now stands, along with the City of Berkeley, City Councilmember Dona Spring, neighborhood activists and two environmental organizations.
While Buckwald said officers at the scene were carrying shotguns and using batons, Mogulof said that he was only aware that officers brought out their batons when they came to the defense of officers who had been attacked after they tried to stop protesters from cutting the fences.
The confrontation developed after a two dozen or more protesters, including Native Americans who contend that the grove is a sacred Ohlone burial ground, arrived to conduct a ceremony and send up supplies to the tree-sitters.
Mogulof said that the university will continue its current policies at the grove until Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller rules on the action brought by the city and others which is now pending in her court.
Until then, university officers will be notifying tree-sitters and their supporters that the injunction issued by Judge Keller applies to them, “and we will abide by the court order,” he said.
Mogulof has said that the university’s policies may change if Judge Miller issues a ruling that will allow the university to start construction on the Barclay Simpson Student Athlete High Performance Center.
“It’s unfortunate that the university police are allowing their department to be used as a political tool to further UC’s massive development plans,” Buckwald said.
Campus police also arrested another protester in an earlier fence-cutting incident, said Mogulof.
Zachary Running Wolf, who initiated the tree-sit by climbing into the branches on Big Game day last year, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with vandalism and trespassing.
“This is a clear issue of racial profiling and targeting of a well-known Indigenous activist,” said Ayr, who has been working to assist the tree-sitters since the protest began.
“I’m out,” said Running Wolf Thursday afternoon after two days in jail. “That’s my eighth time going to the pokey for the tree-sit.” He was also served with a stay-away order and a notice of the injunction.
Running Wolf said he was actually trying to stop the cutting of the fence by infiltrators who were trying to provoke incidents that could adversely influence Judge Miller in her ruling.
Meanwhile, a crew from Tri-City Fence Company was busy repairing the damage to the university’s enclosures at the grove Thursday afternoon, adding a layer of barbed wire at the top.