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Police raid, clear out Occupy the Farm, handful of arrests

KGO livestreamed this image of police surrounding Gill Tract Monday morning. Courtesy KGO

Update, 11:35 am: Latest reports suggest police arrested nine people in this morning’s raid on Occupy the Farm. Close to 100 police from every University of California campus except San Diego and Merced participated in the operation, according to Albany Patch. At 9:44 one young man remained on the Gill Tract property, about 15 feet up in a tree. UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said police would maintain a “stepped-up presence” in the coming days to allow researchers to prepare their fields for planting.

Original story: Several dozen police in riot gear went to the Occupy the Farm encampment at Gill Tract in Albany at around 6:00 am this morning to clear out the remaining protesters.

By 8:00 am, the few activists who were still on the property were packing their belongings and clearing out. The raid went peacefully. An estimated five people were detained by police.

Police officers  gave the protesters 1o minutes to leave the Gill Tract before they marched across the fields near Marin and San Pablo avenues, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the Gill Tract Farmers Collective, UCPD and Alameda County sheriff’s department officers were armed with “less-than-lethal impact-force projectiles, 36″ batons, and pepper-ball guns.”

Lt. Eric Tejada, a police spokesman, said that two protesters were arrested on suspicion of trespassing after they disobeyed police orders to leave the property.

Most of the Gill Tract Farmers Collective activists had moved outside the gates of the Tract last week after police erected barricades and locked entrances.

The raid came after a request made by the group in a statement issued at 1:36 am morning asking UC administrators to allow the activists until 10:00 am today before “moving in with their tractors to till the land for the scientists.”

“We need some time to wake up, stretch our legs, get our blood flowing (it’s cold at night!), and do a final run-through to make sure the plot is clean and tidy,” they wrote. “We hope our collective decision and action will be seen as measure of good faith toward the scientists.”

Read the full Gill Tract Farmers Collective statement.

Reports suggest around five people were detained. Photo: KGO

UC Berkeley explained its decision to send in the police in a statement released at 6:16 am: “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,” they wrote. “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.”

Read the full UC Berkeley statement.

The Occupy group broke into the UC Berkeley-owned property on April 22 arguing that it should be used for urban farming and expressing concern that it was slated for development.

At the time of writing, the police officers occupying the Gill Tract had escorted a large tractor onto the farmland. The Gill Tract Farmers Collective has called for a reconvergence meeting at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., at 5:00 pm Tuesday.

Related:
UC Berkeley speaks of impasse, seals off Occupy Farm [05.10.12]
Activists: Farming and research can coexist, no need for police [05.10.12]
UC Berkeley files lawsuit against Occupy the Farm activists [05.09.12]
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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  • Haselstein

    Occupy is not working currently for a number of reasons. I feel qualified to make these observations as a veteran of nonviolent protests over the years. 1. The movement’s center has been lost. I think many, many people agree with the principles, but the occupations have been plagued with people who are just looking to party. Violence, vandalism, and rapes are not acceptable.The problem is that the Occupiers seem to be just shrugging their shoulders when crimes occur. 2. Okay, I get the idea of no leaders, but then no one is taking responsibility. And when people are willing to discuss issues, as UC seemed to be doing, Occupy just blew it off. No net gain. 3. One can protest, but then, there need to be proposals. Occupy represents the 99 percent, or did, but then what? One makes demands, or proposals–for example: tax corporations in a real way; create disincentives for offshoring jobs; and so forth. Otherwise, what is the point? 

  • Berkeleyfarm

    Like a lot of West Berkeley, I heard the choppers circulating overhead in the morning, and thought it was likely Farm-related. 

    I was surprised that someone got in because when I drove by the Tract at 7 pm last night, the only sign of life I saw inside the fence from the north side was a bored-looking security guard sitting in a lawnchair. 

    There was a small group peaceably assembled on the public sidewalk by the gate on San Pablo.  No interference with traffic. 

    Not a big fan of some of the theatrics these particular Occupiers were using (although some of their proclamations made this daughter of the agricultural Central Valley laugh – at their expense), but it sure seems like a LOT of force, a LOT of trouble, and a LOT of public expense (*) to clear a few hippies off a sidewalk that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic. 

    * Cops got shipped out from most of the other UC campuses?  Yikes, that must have cost a lot.