Protesters occupy UC Berkeley-owned farm in Albany

The Occupy movement has set up tents and started farming on UC land, where a Whole Food was approved to be built by the Albany City Council.
Christopher Yee/Staff
The Occupy movement has set up tents and started farming on UC land, where a Whole Food was approved to be built by the Albany City Council.

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Members of Occupy Cal, along with other Occupy protesters from the Bay Area, marched from Berkeley to a UC Berkeley-owned farm in Albany on Sunday afternoon with plans to set up an Earth Day encampment.

After listening to speakers from various Occupy movements including Occupy San Francisco, Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland, over 100 protesters marched from Ohlone Park to Gill Tract Farm in Albany at 1 p.m., according to UC Berkeley senior and Occupy Cal protester Navid Shaghaghi.

Protesters said they are tilling the land, pulling out weeds and planting seeds in an effort to thwart attempts by the UC to develop a Whole Foods Market, senior center and parking lot on the land, which is located near the campus-owned family housing complex University Village.

After years of planning between the city and the UC, the Albany City Council approved the development of the project in January.

But protesters said that by developing a supermarket on the land, the UC is detering attempts by city and campus community members to use the site for agricultural education.

“We are honoring Earth Day and taking back land that has been abandoned,” Shaghaghi said. “We are planting all types of different plants and we have chickens.”

According to a live video feed run by demonstrators, UCPD had begun issuing warnings to the protesters for trespassing at around 4 p.m. Shaghaghi said he and other protesters plan to set up an encampment at the farm.

At around 5:30 p.m., there were not UCPD officers at the farm. By around 5:50 p.m.,protesters had set up three tents.

Staff writer Christopher Yee contributed to this report. 

Amruta Trivedi is the lead academics and administration reporter.

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  • smketr

    I submit that University administrators and the folks running the City of Albany have been derelict in their duties by allowing these squatters to trespass.  Trespassing, as per the Penal Code in the State of California is a crime and the University Campus Police Department along with Albany P.D. have their hands tied to do anything about it.  Now these malcontents with no respect for the law are demanding by resolution that the police be prohibited from using any kind of force to remove them.  Unfortunately, these knuckleheads are empowered by an Attorney General  back there in D.C that also believes he is above the law.  Therefore, this is the likely scenario now:  Officials will order the police to move in and clear the encampment, force will be used, and these idiots, many of them for crimes much more serious than trespassing like assault on a police officer, will be arrested and send off to jail.  The police will be blamed for using excessive force, some left-wing attorney will sue, an investigation will be ordered into the conduct of the police, and the cops involved will get their reprimands and by on their way.   Kind-of-like the move ‘Groundhog Day’ isn’t it?  Wish it were just a movie…

  • Albany Voter

    The Whole Foods Market is actually to be located not on the Gill Tract, but on land just north and south of Monroe Street (where there used to be World War II barrack-style housing).  So they’re not actually occupying the land where the Whole Foods and senior housing will actually go.   

  • Gennie

    What I see in the picture is one person working (with the tiller) and a bunch of people standing and squatting around.  Two acres, plus seeds & tools, plus a lot of hard work, plus modern fertilizers give you subsistence food for 12 people. (Less without the fertilizers)  I wonder how many of those people expect to work, and how many expect to eat?

  • guest

    they should all be removed by the police …  now ….   this ” occupation  ”   would not be tolerated in most of the country …

  • Stan De San Diego

    I’m looking at the latest pic, and I see some clown with a red scarf and a hammer and sickle T-shirt. Does this ignorant human even realize that the ideology that it represents (Marxism/Communism) was responsible for over 50 million dead in the last century?

    My previous comments about the Occupy crowd have only been confirmed.

  • Look, they even have the prerequiste banner with the semi-clever but meaningless slogan. So what geriatric 1960’s hippie holdover prof is teaching them this nonsense? 

    • Guest

       You just may not know the context and background information for the banner. Basically the company Whole Foods (that we all know and love :P) engages in some rather unpopular practices when it comes to employment and kind of embodies the idea of a good idea being “bought out” by big business interests. While it’s still a hell of a lot more sustainable and healthy store than someplace like WalMart, the protestors here believe that people have the right to have the space to grow their own food, rather than buy it from just another arm of a chain that is omnipresent in the bay area. If you already have a backyard with room for a garden, you’re good! But if you don’t, then they think that there should be spaces (just like community parks) where you can. Thus teaching people how to grow is an important part of an education centered around biology, ecology, environmental engineering, and agriculture.

      Thus the slogan “Whole Food, not Whole Foods”.

      Hey, it’s better than “Keep your government hands of my Medicare”.

      • [While it’s still a hell of a lot more sustainable and healthy store than someplace like WalMart, the protestors here believe that people have the right to have the space to grow their own food]

        Great, they can pool their resources and buy, rent, or lease some land somewhere, instead of squatting on taxpayer property.

        [teaching people how to grow is an important part of an education centered around biology]

        So is taking an occasional bath. Your point?

      • Gennie

        “people have the right to have the space to grow their own food”

        I guess that goes beyond them buying or renting that space, no?  To just taking it from somebody else they don’t like?  

        They should get jobs, rent the space for gardens, and do whatever they like there.

        • local

          Many of those there have full time jobs and/or families. Please come visit before you make such assumptions.

    • Guest

      Read this, maybe you will understand the reason for this demonstration: 

  • Stan De San Diego

    > “Right, the land is payed for by the taxpayer and yet the
    > actual control of it is put in the hands of a very few number
    > of people who have little relation to the public interest.”

    But at least those politicians, as imperfect as they may be, were elected to represent the people, and appoint the administrators of that property. Now who elected you again?

    > “If your little posse of teabaggers got your heads together for long enough”

    Unlike you, the Tea Party people realize where the real power is, which is at the ballot box. That’s why they are organizing forums and scrutinizing various candidates for public office to decide if they should back them or not, as opposed to having silly “occupations”, camping out in tents, and picking fights with the police. Sure, they have their demonstrations, but at the end of the day, they pack up their signs, pick up their garbage, and go home. That’s the difference between  Junior Chipmunk types working on their Revolutionary merit badges, and grown adults with real responsibilities. Not that you would have a clue as to what I’m talking about, given in all likelihood you aren’t raising a family or have a real job.

    • 2012

       Both of your responses are based around the belief that voting is effective in drastically changing government policies. Two points: 1) with a 2-party system (where both parties are far-right capitalist) there is no alternative between what many people see as two evils. Thus, there’s not much of a choice; it’s kind of like the old “would you rather be burned alive or drowned?” question…it would be nice to have a third option. I mean, if you had to pick between Stalin and Mao, who would you pick? 2) Elections are won by money, and the assent of those already in power. Look at the Republican party this year as a prime example: Mitt Romney has raised somewhere around 40x more money than any of the other candidates. You may say that this is because he’s merely 40x more popular, but at the polls he’s obviously not. Much of that money comes from multibillionaires who know that he will promote policies beneficial to them if elected. A lot more of that money comes from the SuperPACs, who do similar lobbyist-style fundraising (essentially promising the implementation of certain policies in return for campaign donations. Basically the rich are buying their votes rather than casting them). Even the “Tea Party” realizes this: they immediately were subsidized by large media corporations like Fox News in order to garner money to promote their political candidates. They understood that more money translates to more votes. Since the Occupy movement is diametrically opposed to this practice they immediately have a handicap in modern politics! But money is not everything, power is too: look at the complete undemocracy of the private media. Back in the 2000 election, they banned any 3rd-party from participating in debates with Bush and Gore. How are you supposed to vote for someone you’ve never even seen debate with the other candidates? What these Occupy protestors are trying to do is engage in a more direct democracy by “occupying” the property and forcing the issue…the whole problem they have is that nothing is happening with the land, and it’s not like there’s a little check box on the ballot that says “Should the property owned by University of California in Albany…….” etc.

      And please stop shitting on everyone else in the world with different viewpoints than yours, acting like you are somehow “more mature” than them. That attitude in the first place is a little bit insecure, and second it’s just flat wrong anyways. I’m not personally attacking you as being irresponsible, or a bad parent, so don’t do it to other people who you’ve never met, never will, and don’t know anything about. For all I know about you, you’re a great guy to hang out with (or the exact opposite…I HAVE NO IDEA BECAUSE THIS IS THE INTERNET AND I’VE NEVER MET YOU BEFORE).

      •  [with a 2-party system (where both parties are far-right capitalist)]

        Thanks for letting us know you’re a complete fruit-loop. How about moving to somewhere more to your liking if you don’t like capitalism? I hear springtime in North Korea is an experience not to be missed…

      • Stan De San Diego

         Excuse me, but if you honestly believe that the current party in the White House and Senate is “far right”, then it clearly isn’t possible for you to engage in any type of intelligent discussion, because you are clearly far, far removed from reality. Where did you pick up this nonsense?

  • 1776

    Well the University is at it, they should develop people’s park also. Its a perfect spot for a 10 story parking lot

    • Stan De San Diego

       I wonder what the site remediation costs would be to clean up all the toxic waste there – or will it just get up and walk away when the handouts stop?

  • Berkeleyprotest

    Potential to open land up for families, students and workers

    • Guest

       Seriously. Private property is no excuse for wasted potential. If you ain’t gonna do anything with it then we will.

      • Stan De San Diego

        It’s not your right to make that decision, child.

        • Guest

           According to you. Racists thought that blacks had no civil right either, and many men thought that women had no right to vote. I believe that the people have a right to support themselves, even if that means redistributing the king’s lands.

          • Stan De San Diego

            This has nothing to do with either of those, but nice try. As far as the “king’s lands” comment, all you are doing is showing your absolute ignorance, given that those lands are public property and in essence owned by the taxpayers and voters. You and your little crew are merely rationalizing taking them for your own use, which is in all likelihood whatever silly idea came across your little minds at the moment.

          • Guest

             Right, the land is payed for by the taxpayer and yet the actual control of it is put in the hands of a very few number of people who have little relation to the public interest. This is not fair. This is why people protest it. If your little posse of teabaggers got your heads together for long enough to look at how the populace is really swindled out of its political and economic power you’d probably be out there yourselves with your little 1700’s hats.

            To use your “kiddy” language.

          •  Nothing like playing the race card when you can’t win an argument, loser…

    •  Didn’t Uncle Joe say that same thing about Siberia?