BERKELEY — The tree-sit at UC Berkeley has been over for two months. The trees are long gone, and construction of the $125 million sports training center for the Cal Bears will start when the football season ends next month.
But the legal troubles for those who sat in trees or aided the tree sitters during the 21-month protest of the sports training center are far from over.
On Monday, nine of the 11 people who violated a court order and were cited by police, either on the ground or in the trees, were sentenced by Judge Marshall Whitley in Alameda County Superior Court.
"It is ridiculous that UC Berkeley is spending the court's time and resources going after people who are trying to protect the Earth,'" said Erik "Ayr" Eisenberg, the main spokesman during the tree-sit. He was sentenced last month to 50 hours of community service for his part in the protest. He also may have to pay a portion of UC Berkeley's attorney fees.
In October 2007, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Richard Keller ruled that tree sitters must come down or face a $1,000 fine, five days in jail or both. He later said that "all other persons acting in concert or participating with" the tree sitters could face fines or jail time.
The ruling largely was ignored. During the tree-sit, police wrote more 300 citations, university officials said. Some were for minor violations, and not everyone was arrested.
The university went after more than a
"Today was definitely a victory," he said. "We've been trying since this (tree-sit) began in December 2006 to be reasonable with them and negotiate with them, and they basically thumbed their noses at us. Today was a confirmation by the judge that you can't do that."
What's more, UC Berkeley filed a civil suit in September seeking to recover attorney fees incurred during the 21-month protest. The university is seeking legal fees from a handful of protesters, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 each, Goldstein said.
Over the weekend, six of the 11 people stipulated to being found in contempt of court by violating Keller's court order and were sentenced to 50 hours each of community service, Goldstein said.
Kingman Lim and Zachary RunningWolf Brown, both ground supporters, and Michael Schuck, a tree sitter for many months, were found to be in contempt of court. Each were sentenced to five days in jail and ordered to pay a yet to be determined amount of UC Berkeley's attorney fees, Lim said.
Lim and RunningWolf each were cited during the tree-sit for assisting the protesters. RunningWolf received a citation for climbing up a tree for several minutes. Lim said he was cited for hanging a banner from a tree.
"I'm very disappointed in the judge's ruling," Lim said Monday. "I believe the real criminals are the Police Department for misconduct and unprofessionalism and the UC Regents for continuing to pursue punishment after the grove is gone."
The cases of two others who were cited during the protest will be continued until March because one is fighting the charges on the grounds of double jeopardy and one was not in court Monday, Goldstein said.
Monday was the second round of sentences for those who helped with the tree-sit. In early October, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Cecilia Castellanos found five people to be in contempt of court for their roles in the protest.