They say that a photo speaks a thousand words. Well, there is certainly a big, crazy story behind this photo:
So, let’s get to it. On Saturday, March 29, 2008, over a year since I really kicked it with my BFF, I decided to go check out the tree sit and see what was going on. We hadn’t had much of an update in a while. What was going on? Had they removed anybody or anything?
When we first got up there, we noticed three posted papers on the fence (which is now actually 2 fences, it appears they added another one). The first looked like this:
It basically says read the Court Order, it applies to anybody entering this area, if you deface the posted Order, you suck, too.
Thats a bit tough to read (esp. since the Blogsome software forces me to scale it down some). Heres the best transcription I could manage (some words are blocked out by the fence).
The Regents of the University of California, Plaintiff, v. David Galoway; Colin Scherl, and Does 1 through 50, inclusive
Recitations about past hearing, who appeared at the hearing, yada yada yada. Key part:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, pending further action, defendants, and each of them, and all other persons acting in concert or participating with them, or any of them, shall be and are hereby enjoined from lodging, scaling, climbing, hanging, sitting or standing on any of the trees in the Memorial Stadium Oak Grove on the University of California Berkeley campus or placing or maintaining any objects in those trees including, but not limited to, platforms, hammocks, receptacles coantaining human waste, bar-b-ques, or other devices for preparing food with the use of fire, or rope
Failure to comply with this Order constitutes civil contempt, punishable up to a $1,000 fine or something in jail, or both, as well as an order to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred by the The Regents in initiating the comptempt proceedings within.
I doubt that Cal thought merely posting the Order would be sufficient to get the tree-sitters to leave. But if they did, they had to be shocked. Clearly,this Order has had no effect at all so far:
The tree sitters are still there as always. I guess Cal is waiting until a ruling comes down from the judge in the main court case to make a move. If Cal removes the sitters, but not the trees, they will just go back. And the PR backlash will be bad. Cal cannot remove the trees just yet, because there is a Court injunction against moving forward on the project until the Court rules. I guess that if Cal wins and Berkeley isnt going to appeal, then Cal will remove the sitters, remove the trees and push forward.
When we got there, there was one guy standing around talking with some touristy looking people. I didn’t want to be a dick about anything and I kind of wanted to see it from the tree-sitters angle, so I started talking with him all nice. I asked him what his role was. He said he was ground support. I asked what the fence was for. He said it was designed to keep people separated from nature. He said there was a protective aspect to it, but it was more about keeping people from enjoying nature. He spoke of a spiritual connection between nature and man and Cal was actively destroying that. As if Sandy Barbour was sitting around going "PEOPLE ARE ENJOYING THAT GROVE TOO MUCH!!! IT HELPS THEIR SOULS! WE MUST STOP IT! LET’S DO A STADIUM UPGRADE!"
Then, I asked him if there were any tree-sitters around and lo and behold, they were RIGHT ABOVE ME!
The ground support dude left to take those other people on a tour. We started talking and that was when I decided to snap that uber-sweet shot. Let’s look at it again!
"JAZZ HANDS EVERYBODY!"
I was hoping to get over to where they were, but once I got my legs up, that was about the extent of my tree-climbing abilities. Not exactly at my high school weight anymore. ! And yes I realize my maroon turtleneck with suspenders and seersucker jacket combo wasn’t the prime tree-climbing attire. But, in my defense, I am clearly the best dressed tree-sitter of all time!
So, I came down and continued to talk with the tree-sitters. This is what I gleaned:
1. The woman said it was the happiest time in her life. I think her exact quote was something like "Every day is the happiest day of my life." She had been there since the fall. She said it was the longest tree sit in America history, barely beating out that great time we all hung out in Bobby’s treehouse for 15 months. Or something.
2. Tennessee fans were great to them. The tree-sitters theorized as some sort of "enemy of your enemy is your friend thing." I predict that that is not accurate and that the Tennessee fans weren’t as much nice as they were stunned. Kind of how you are "nice" to animals in a zoo. You dont scream or yell at them. But that monkey with the red bottom is a weird oddity. And certainly compared to the Berkeley fans, who were seeing the tree-sitters for the first time (it started like the day after Big Game 06, I think), the Tennessee fans were going to be less mean.
3. Nonetheless, Berkeley fans were generally OK. Some had hurled invectives at my new friends. Some of their friends had had beer bottles thrown at them by the Berkeley fans. The tree-sitters seemed to think it was a small group of a-holes ruining it for everybody. Trying to gain their trust, I said "Isn’t it always that way, I mean right now there’s a small group of a-holes running the country, ruining it for everybody." I made a educated guess that these tree-sitters were not pro-Bush conservatives, who would have been insulted by that. And I was right! I really wanted to say "There’s a BIG GROUP OF A-HOLES RUNNING THE CITY, RUINING IT FOR US ALL!"
But that might have ended poorly.
4. I asked about the Order. The girl said she hadn’t read it. The guy said he couldn’t read (couldn’t tell whether he was being serious). The girl said cops used to come by with megaphones and read it out, but that hadnt happened in a while. It was dated in October of 07, afterall.
And then the cops came. If you notice in the above photo, there is a woman in a yellow jacket directly below me. Just a Cal security guard, she must have called the cops on me when I got up in the tree. Two squad cars came driving up. This one cop with a HUGE tuft of facial hair coming out of his chin came over towards us.
The tree-sitters said a few things like "Are you new to this beat?" I couldn’t tell if they were being serious or not. The cop replied about how generally he was senior enough to not have to come up there. Then, they started commenting on his uber-sweet facial hair.
So, I was all "Can I just say that yes, you do have really awesome facial hair!" To which, the cop replied "Oh, thanks, I love your haircut."
Hey! I think the cop was coming on to me. Ai!
The cop then said that he had heard there were some people entering the trees. That confused me at first. I wanted to be all "Did you just walk out of December, 2006?" but then I realized he meant me climbing into the tree for a photo. I explained the photo and said I didn’t want to make trouble and I would move on. I really wanted to take a photo with the cop, but resisted the urge. I also probably should have stayed to witness the interaction between the cop and the tree-sitter. But we decided to move on, instead. Better safe than sorry, right?
"I can smell you from down here."
And thus ended my investigation into the tree-sitters and their story. Here are some more photos of the signs and graffitotags at the area.
"Rez De Berkeley, fighting terrorism since December 2, 2006." Yes, because Sandy Barbour is the same as Osama Bin Laden.
Tree Sit Day 479
Protecting A Native American Burial Ground.
And there you go! GO BEARS!