Reader Report: Grandmothers Provide Supplies to Tree-Sitters

By Matthew Taylor
Tuesday February 26, 2008

UC police tried to physically prevent food, water, and supplies from reaching treesitters on Feb. 19, but failed in the face of determined efforts by grandmothers, students, and community members. Officers pushed, shoved, and used pain compliance techniques before giving up, as supporters sent supplies to the treesitters and sang “We shall not be moved.”  

On Feb. 18, UC Police raided the grove and cut down food, water, tarps, sleeping platforms, and climbing ropes, nearly causing one treesitter to fall to his death because two of the traverse lines that had been cut still appeared to be securely attached. In response, the Berkeley Grandmothers for the Oaks organized an “emergency resupply” on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. to replace the lost supplies. When the grandmothers and their friends arrived, UC police were ready with a long metal barricade on the sidewalk in front of the grove (on city property). Despite UC’s claim that it has no intention to deny food and water to the treesitters, the approximately 15 police on the scene made every effort to physically intimidate community members and stop them from sending up the goods.  

Chanting “We love the oaks,” community members circled up in a tight hug, linked arms, and sent food and water up on supply ropes. The UC police shoved, pushed, and grabbed citizens, but were unable to break up the circle. They gave up in frustration, and the treesitters received their gifts with smiles on their faces.  

I was standing right in the middle of the circle, with my tape recorder rolling, observing the police’s aggressive behavior. I wondered out loud: is there something else the police could do on behalf of “public safety” than try to deny food and water to protesters, and endanger their lives by cutting their ropes?  

As of Thursday morning, the barricade was gone from the sidewalk. The grandmothers vowed to continue supplying the treesitters every Sunday at 2 p.m. 

Berkeley Citizen’s video of the festivities can be viewed at www.youtube.com/