A brief history of the tree sitters:
UC Berkeley wanted to expand the football stadium, but they needed to cut down a number of oak and redwood trees to accomodate the expansion. Various lawsuits were filed to stop the construction, and people began living in several of the trees to prevent them from being cut down. The police cordoned off the area, but provided the tree sitters with food so they wouldn't starve to death. The protest went on for almost two years.
By the time I came to UC Berkeley, only four tree sitters were left in one tree. The others had been removed or had come down. The lawsuits were settled (the university won), the grove was cut down, and the final tree sitters were removed in my first month. I could see (and hear) everything from my dorm, which was about 1/4 of a mile away.
Here's the photo story:
The four tree sitters.
They had quite an elaborate tree house; then again, they lived there for 21 months, so this is understandable.
The police had the area cordoned off. There were three fences between the street and the tree sitters.
The security was understandable. Tensions often became inflamed. By the way, the sign reads "free firewood."
On Thursday, Sept. 4, the judge ruled in favor of the university, ending the lawsuit. On Friday morning, the school gave the tree sitters 72 hours notice to vacate the tree or be removed forcibly, and began cutting down the grove. Over the weekend the university removed all the trees in the grove except the inhabited one. On this tree, they cut off all the lower branches, making it impossible to climb up or down. As it turned out, this was part of their tree sitter removal plan.
I woke up each morning to the sounds of chain saws, wood chippers, helicopters, and screaming hippies.
It was an absolute media circus. At times, there were as many as three helicopters overhead, plus about nine news vans on the ground.
The 72 hours expired Monday morning, and the university stopped giving the tree sitters food and water.
A local author who is writing a book about the tree sit called me and woke me up Tuesday morning to inform me that the tree sitters were finally being removed. I grabbed my camera and ran down to the grove.
The university contracted a company to build a scaffold around the tree. This would allow police and negotiators to walk up and remove the tree sitters. The stadium is in the background of this image.
The scaffolding went up extremely quickly. The cherry pickers have plastic sheets on top to prevent the tree sitters from throwing stuff at the construction workers.
Note the guy standing in the basket on top and playing the guitar. The cherry picker on the left contains police directing the scaffold construction.
Tensions grew, and there were several arrests.
The police formed a line to prevent spectators from blocking the street, but ultimately gave up and closed the road.
The crowd grew... The towers from two news vans are on the right.
The basket was suspended from a MASSIVE crane. In it was the Berkeley chief of police, a videographer, and another negotiator. They spoke to the tree sitters continually throughout the day.
The scaffold grows higher.
The scaffold reaches the base of the tree sitters' platform, and they begin cutting branches that are in the way.
The negotiators reach the platform and begin disassembling and throwing it away. The tree sitters, meanwhile, climb up the tree and turn into a human totem pole.
The tree sitters' main platform is thrown over the edge. Note the platform at the top of the scaffolding.
Their blanket is thrown over the edge. The tree sitters' home is now virtually gone.
The tree sitters finally reach an agreement to come down. This is the last time they are together in the tree.
The first sitter comes down and is arrested.
The second sitter comes down and also is arrested.
The third sitter comes down...
As the third sitter is arrested in front of the media and a thousand onlookers, two scaffold workers climb up and put out a sign for their company. Probably the best advertising the company ever had.
The final tree sitter comes down, and is led off.
Even the chief of police is happy.
The scaffold was removed in about two hours, and this last tree was gone by the end of the day.
There's some new mulch in front of Evans building now.