Although protesters occupying UC-owned land in Albany took down their camping structures Saturday, they declined the final offer from UC Berkeley administrators to completely cede control of the land and enter negotiations.
On Friday, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance John Wilton issued a statement informing the protesters that they had until Saturday at 10 a.m. to decide to dismantle the entirety of the encampment in order to enter discussions with the campus.
The statement invited two encampment representatives to a Saturday meeting facilitated by College of Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless to begin working out the details about how to continue urban agriculture on the land alongside faculty, staff and student research, provided the protesters dismantle the encampment.
Spokespeople for the encampment informed several campus administrators at 9 a.m. Saturday they would not completely leave the land. Occupy the Farm spokesperson Anya Kamenskaya said they will remove camping-related structures but continue to stay and farm the land. She said some protesters will camp outside the fence surrounding the tract though they had not yet worked out details as to how that would work.
“We’re moving our living infrastructure off-site to be painfully obvious that the issue isn’t camping,” Kamenskaya said. “The issue is farming — making sure people have access to the farm, allowing farmers and the community to come out and support us by planting and watering.”
Kamenskaya said the protesters decided to not attend the meeting because they felt it was restrictive — it was not to be an open meeting nor was it to take place on the tract. Instead, she said the encampment will hold an open house Saturday at 5 p.m. to which they are inviting the local city and UC Berkeley communities.
She added that protesters are building a “slide of sorts” in order to help people enter the tract, which was sealed off by UCPD on Thursday.
Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said he was disappointed and frustrated with the protesters’ decision because the campus was willing to move forward with the goal of the occupation — urban agriculture alongside research agriculture.
“We’re hard pressed to understand why they continue to violate the law, violate our property rights, violate what is an essential value to the university — which is academic freedom — the ability of our faculty and students to continue their work uninterrupted,” Mogulof said.
Mogulof said the administration and UCPD are following the guidelines detailed in the recently published draft of the Edley-Robinson report. The report presents 50 UC protest policy recommendations mostly focused on expanding communication between protesters, police and administration as well as exploring all possible peaceful solutions. However, he said time is running out before the campus must act in order to ensure researchers can plant their crops on the tract.
“How it happens is up to them,” Mogulof said. “They have the opportunity to vacate and stay off property, and if they do that, we will have a peaceful solution.”
Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.
Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regard to the readers, writers and contributors of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Click here to read the full comment policy.