UC files lawsuit against Occupy the Farm

A news helicopter flew over the Gill Tract Wednesday. Photo: Ira Serkes

After sending in police early Wednesday to erect barricades around the Gill Tract, the University of California filed a lawsuit against 14 members of Occupy the Farm.

The university said the legal action was “an additional step that the University is taking to regain control of its property so that it can be used for agricultural research and education.” But the university pointed out that the occupiers could still accept the university’s proposal “that would allow for a peaceful end to the illegal encampment, resumption of research activities and the continuation of urban farming on portions of the land that will not be utilized by faculty and students.”

The lawsuit and non-confrontational barricading of Occupy the Farm appears to reflect the university’s new, gentler approach to dealing with protestors. Last week, Berkeley Law Dean Chris Edley and UC Vice President and General Counsel for Legal Affairs Charles Robinson delivered a report conducted after the violent confrontations with Occupy activists last fall. It concluded that the university should back off from the use of force, including batons and pepper spray, in confronting protesters and instead rely on mediators or de-escalation techniques.

The lawsuit filed in Alameda County Superior Court alleges that the defendants conspired to damage the Gill Tract by cutting locks, trespassing, and establishing an illegal encampment. The suit states that the Occupy the Farm’s illegal presence on the property is preventing research and educational programs from proceeding. The suit asks the court to evict the protestors and award unspecified monetary damages.

UC Police came to the Gill Tract in Albany around 6:30 am and erected two concrete barriers across roads leading into the property. While the university said there were no arrests or injuries, the Occupy the Farm protesters said in a statement that “they threatened people with “chemical agents and impact force”, and appeared prepared to bulldoze and destroy the farm.”

After the police left, the protestors started to help Prof. Miguel Altieri plant his research crops.

Supporters of Occupy the Farm have called for a march from the North Berkeley BART station to the Gill Tract at 6:30 pm. They are asking supporters to spend the night to “defend it from any impending police raid.”

Read the lawsuit here.

Cal weighs legal action to evict Occupy the Farm activists [05.08.12]
Farm activists: We will leave camp if Cal meets our concerns [05.08.12]
UC Berkeley sets midnight deadline for Occupy the Farm [05.05.12]
Could UC and Occupy the Farm compromise on Gill Tract? [05.04.12]
UC Berkeley to Occupy the Farm: “Time is running out.” [05.03.12]
Occupy the Farm activists issue open letter to community [04.30.12]
UC Berkeley issues open letter to “clear confusion” on Gill Tract [04.27.12]
UC Berkeley calls for peaceful end to Occupy the Farm [04.23.12]

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  • Andrew

    So… protesters ask UC to avoid using force… UC avoids using force… and protesters never leave…

    You know, I bet if UC let them have their way, which they won’t, but if they did, the protesters would get bored and leave within a few months. Without something to protest against they’d lose their energy, and would they really be able to sustain a working farm through the seasons? And who would be in charge and who would pay to support it? I doubt that land can grow enough food to pay for itself so it would have to be subsidized. And who would get the profits from the sale of that food if there were profits – “the people” or “the taxpayers” who many claim actually own that land? Would every citizen of California get a piece of the pie?

    Or let them keep it and after the Little League fields are removed from their current location wait and watch while the Little League kids and parents “take back the Tract” from the farmers…

  • Precisely. Have you seen the amazing “farming” going on there?

  • Anonymous

    Those captions are hilarious, nice find.

  • Guest

    Maybe no one would care if they started a farm by the I-80 and I-580 interchange.

  • AdamMerberg

    Am I the only one who counts 15 named defendants on the lawsuit? Berkeleyside, Albany Patch, and the Chronicle all say 14. But paragraphs 2 through 16 all name defendants, right?

  • PragmaticProgressive

    My great grandparents were immigrant farmers. Step one for them was to buy a plot of land.

    Urban Adamah has shown an alternative approach: make arrangements with the owner of a plot of land for its use. Construct moveable raised beds in anticipation of an eventual move.

    Squatting should not be on the list.

  • carol.denney

    Dear Editor and readers,

    The lawsuit against the Gill Tract farmers is an expensive
    bullying tactic, and the regents have used it before.

    Exactly 20 years ago
    in 1992, I was one of four named defendants in a similar SLAPP (Strategic
    Lawsuit Against Public Participation) designed to frighten and intimidate the
    community of people opposing the effort to turn People’s Park into a sports

    The regents eventually had to remove their own sand
    volleyball courts in the park, but not before costing the public millions in
    scarce funds intended for education.

    It is an outrage that the clear call for cooperative,
    communicative response to protest suggested in the Robinson-Edley report is
    being ignored in favor of a costly and malicious prosecution of people for simply
    planting vegetables. This is not, as the Berkeleyside article suggests, a gentler tactic. It is an extreme abuse of both the legal process and the scarce educational funds the regents seem dedicated to needlessly squandering.


    Carol Denney

    1970 San Pablo Avenue #4

    Berkeley, CA 94702

    (510) 548-1512

  • batard

    Pajamas Media mission is to spread right-wing propaganda, and the author (zombie) has been publishing similar pieces on his blog for quite a while ..

    Yeah they poke fun at some arguably silly behavior, but they are all written to support a preconceived point of view, and largely to discredit the subjects in the photos. Which is to say, facts are a secondary consideration.

  • Anonymous

     That doesn’t make them any less funny.  Even the Drudge Report is occasionally funny if you treat it as a sort of agitprop collage.