Berkeley Occupy Farm charade comes to predictable end
May 14, 2012 - 9:59 am
Prediction: Very few, if any, of these “crops” will ever be harvested, or even grow to maturity.
Well, my crystal ball was correct, as just a few hours ago the U.C. Berkeley police put an end to the Occupiers’ little pretend-farm:
Police cleared out the small group of protesters early Monday who had set up an urban farming camp on UC Berkeley agricultural research land in Albany.
University police officers in riot helmets gave the protesters 10 minutes to leave the Gill Tract before they marched across the fields near Marin and San Pablo avenues at about 6:15 a.m. The few protesters who had not obeyed the police order scurried off the property and onto San Pablo, which officers had closed to traffic. The street was later reopened.
Two protesters were arrested on suspicion of trespassing after they disobeyed police orders to leave the property, said Lt. Eric Tejada, a police spokesman.
Work crews moved in shortly after 7:30 a.m. and began removing activists’ tents and supplies. Several dozen protesters watched from the sidewalk.
The “Albany Patch” site has a few more details:
An Alameda County Sheriff’s Department van exited the farm through University Village, chanting could be heard inside the van. David Grefrath, an occupy the farm supporter, said that occupiers were given a 10-minute dispersal order before 7 a.m. “I’m feeling like all of this is super bizarre,” Grefrath said. “We were already in some form of negotiations with the university, so why do they need 80 to 100 police in riot gear.”
The Patch article also reprints a U.C. Berkeley Press release, which says in part:
Early this morning officers from the UCPD, along with personnel from other UC police departments, began taking the steps necessary for UC Berkeley to regain full control and supervision of our property in and around the Gill Tract. After weeks of patient dialogue, engagement and rejected offers of compromise, we deeply regret that the occupiers’ actions and continued insistence on free and unfettered access to what is an open air laboratory left us no choice but to take this step. As the occupiers said in their statement rejecting our invitation to participate in efforts to sustain urban agriculture, “We’re not ceding control or supervision.”
It is no cause for celebration that the involvement of law enforcement is required to secure our fundamental property rights and protect a core value that is an indivisible part of who we are: academic freedom; the ability of our faculty and students to pursue their scientific interests without interference. We have said from the beginning that we would honor our commitment to protect the university’s rights and values.
The UCPD has been asked to secure the property and, if need be, arrest and detain those who continue to trespass and/or violate other laws of the state. The purpose of today’s action is to ensure our faculty and students can conduct the research projects to which they have devoted much of their academic and professional lives. Over the course of the last three weeks we have consistently stated that the field must be prepared for research crops by the middle of May, and we simply cannot wait any longer lest our faculty and students lose a full year of work. As the dean of our College of Natural Resources, Keith Gilless, has made clear, you simply can’t engage in meticulous plant research with dozens of uninvited, untrained and unsupervised “guests” roaming around what is an open-air laboratory, doing what ever they please.
Of course, cynical observers knew from the start that the Occupiers had absolutely no intention of toughing it out on the farm out for a year, laboring anonymously and in obscurity as unpaid farmworkers just to prove a point, while dozens of more exciting protests beckon. The goal, as is always the Occupiers’ goal, was to steal other people’s stuff, break the law, and make a nuisance of themselves to such an extent that the police have no choice but to arrest them, at which point the Occupiers can posture as victims.
Anyway, let’s hope that the scientists quickly plow over the Occupiers’ patty-cake garden of store-bought seedlings and re-establish their open-air laboratory in time for the growing season.