Treesitter Collapses; Doctor Blasts Police

By Richard Brenneman
Wednesday July 02, 2008 - 06:48:00 PM

A treesitter collapsed moments after climbing down from her perch at the UC Berkeley oak grove, and campus police initially refused to allow a doctor in to examine the ailing woman, known as Dumpster Muffin. 

That was the account given by the physician, Dr. Larry Bedard, and treesit support coordinator Ayr following the dramatic events of Wednesday afternoon. Dumpster Muffin was one of three treesitters to come down at the grove on Wednesday. 

“When she got down from the tree, she collapsed,” said the doctor, a past president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. “They got her up and held her up and she collapsed again. It happened three times.” 

Bedard faulted campus police for their conduct, stating that “any Boy Scout knows that for someone in her condition, the first thing you do is lie her down and elevate her feet.” 

Both Ayr and the physician said that campus police had initially agreed that the doctor would be allowed to see her should any medical problems be evident, but then he was initially denied entry after she collapsed. 

Ayr said he vaulted the sidewalk barricades near International House and confronted officers, including Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya, who he said had earlier agreed to allow access. 

Finally Bedard was allowed to enter. “They had her sitting in a chair,” he said, so the doctor had her lie on her back with her feet elevated. 

“Her pulse was rapid and thready and she had clear signs of dehydration,” he said. 

Police finally summoned an ambulance, and both the doctor and a paramedic agreed that Dumpster Muffin should be taken to Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, the closest emergency room. 

“But after police said she should be taken to Highland Hospital” the ambulance headed there, Bedard said, speaking to the Planet on route to the hospital. 

Bedard had appeared at a rally for the treesitters June 22, where he urged the university to send up food and fluids to the treesitters. Mogulof told a press conference later that day that police had determined the treesitters had ample water. 

Campus police sent up water June 26. 

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof didn’t return a call from the Planent, but later a press release gave a substantially different account: 

“Amanda ‘Dumpster Muffin’ Tierney, age 21, also came down peacefully from her perch,” Mogulof wrote. “Once on the ground she appeared to be in distress; the Berkeley Fire department was immediately called and a physician affiliated with the protest was allowed in to the grove to provide medical care until fire department EMT’s (sic) arrived a short time later. 

“Ms. Tierney was transported to Highland Hospital where, as of this writing, she remains. Once she is able to be processed, Tierney will be charged with trespassing and violating the court order and could be released pending a UCPD review of other possible charges and/or outstanding warrants. 

“We are pleased that our approach seems to be working as we move a few steps closer to a safe but certain end to this situation Assistant Chief Celaya and his officers did an incredible job today, handling a delicate situation with the highest degree of professionalism.”