Litigation continues against Gill Tract occupiers

Police raid the Gill Tract occupiers in Albany on May 14.
Anna Vignet/File
Police raid the Gill Tract occupiers in Albany on May 14.

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Ongoing litigation continues against protesters who occupied UC-owned land in Albany two weeks after UCPD cleared out the encampment.

Two of the 10 protesters arrested during the May 14 raid on the Occupy the Farm camp had their charges dropped by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office last Wednesday, and one accepted a plea bargain last Thursday. Fifteen protesters named in a civil suit filed against them by the university await their next court date Thursday.

According to Deputy District Attorney Teresa Drenick, Edward Miller — who was arrested on May 14 after allegedly climbing a tree, urinating on a police officer and throwing a plant starter at an officer — pleaded guilty Thursday to resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer. He was sentenced to 30 days in county jail, three years of probation and a stay-away order from the Gill Tract.

The district attorney’s office chose not to file charges against farm protesters Mari Belmares and Charles Allred based on the “interest of justice,” according to Drenick.

Sheryl Rowe and Marisa Skaggs, who were arrested on May 14 for allegedly trespassing on the Gill Tract, have arraignment hearings at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland scheduled for June 11.

The 15 protesters named in a lawsuit brought against them by the UC also await legal proceedings. The next court date in the suit for the group is Thursday.

“We didn’t do anything wrong,” said Gopal Dayaneni, spokesperson for Occupy the Farm and one of the 15 protesters named in the suit. “We did what was right. We opened up a possibility in people’s imaginations that something better could be done on that land.”

“We urge the administration and campus police to drop all charges against the farmers and protesters, and to engage in good-faith negotiations to ensure that the Gill Tract is reserved for community-based agricultural use to be governed as a form of commons in conjunction with the farmers and local community,” reads the statement.

In a May 11 letter, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance John Wilton wrote that the lawsuit would be dropped if the protesters left peacefully and did not re-occupy the Gill Tract.

Although the protesters moved their camp site south of the research land by the May 12 deadline set by Breslauer and Wilton, they continued to farm the rows of crops they had planted up until the day of the May 14 raid.

A May 18 letter from Breslauer and Wilton said that the campus is still wiling to discuss the possibility of urban farming on the Gill Tract. The letter also said that staff from the College of Natural Resources are tending to 40 rows of protester-planted crops that were preserved and kept alongside crops originally planted for staff research.

Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.

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  • ArwenUndomniel

    The University of California at Berkeley has taken a 2-fold
    approach with Occupy The  Farm at the
    Gill Tract by filing a civil suit against 15 of the protesters for trespass in
    Alameda Superior Court as well as having a raid by the University and Albany
    police and other departments to bring criminal charges for criminal trespass,
    failure to disperse and other charges,


         The Occupiers
    need both civil rights and criminal attorneys. 
    The civil rights attorney would file an Answer as to the civil complaint
    then turn around and file a federal civil rights law suit in District Court in San
    Francisco for violations of their civil rights under
    Section 1983 and the United States Constitution. In the law suit you ask the
    federal court to take “pendent jurisdiction” of the University’s state claims
    and the case in Alameda Superior Court is stayed while the federal court
    handles and hears their claims.


       This gets the case
    out of Alameda County Superior Court where the University has friends including
    the District Attorney of Alameda County.


        The problem is the
    attorney(s) representing the Occupiers in the criminal case have no knowledge
    of federal procedure nor experience with doing this kind of litigation. Though
    I have tried to enlist the ACLU in San Francisco
    to take on their case, they have declined as they already have 4 cases in the
    office involving the Occupy Movement.


       Talking to the
    Occupiers does no good because, of course, they know everything. So they have
    chosen to flounder in their legal dilemma.


      As for the criminal
    cases you can continue those cases forever if everyone is out of custody and
    try them in the press. Eventually the DA will back down.

        What the Occupiers have done is brought to the forefront the Unversity’s misuse of University property by leasing the land to corporations such as Monsanto and having its University staff work on projects that would destroy our food supply and produce GMOs. The land has been used not for the public, but for corporate and University at the cost of students and the community who want to work the land to feed the people.

       So the University has been caught once again with their hand in the cookie jar violating the public trust and misusing University property.   and



    • I_h8_disqus

      How was the research on the Gill tract misusing university property if the property was being used for research by the UC?

      • Berkeleyprotest

         What research will occur when the Gill Tract is paved over and turned into a shopping center and baseball field?

        • I_h8_disqus

          None, but none of the arguments in the article refer to that scenario, and that is why I asked the poster the question.  I have no problem with protesting the sale of the land for money instead of using it for research, though my idea of protest does not involve an occupy aspect that destroys.

        • Guest again

           On that line, what type of stupid comments will you continue to make if someone duct tapes your hands together and locks you in a room with no internet access? You are deliberately deceptive in suggesting things that were never going to happen in the first place.

          In case nobody has mentioned it already, your stream of silly, uninformed posts are an embarrassment. Get a clue what you are talking about before you post your stupid drivel next time.

    • DailyCalReader

      Such an insightful plan of action.  When even the ACLU doesn’t take up your cause, you should know you have a problem (I’m pretty sure they can handle *five* cases at once).  By the way, please enlighten us on all the civil rights violations that occurred.  I didn’t realize people have the right to not be arrested after they trespass and destroy other peoples’ property.

      I agree 100% that there should be a civil lawsuit regarding this situation.  Fortunately, it has already been filed.

      • Berkeleyprotest

         Making excuses for George Marcus, Richard Blum, Sherry Lansing and Norman Pattiz?

    • Daniel Gies

       Deciding to seize the land because you don’t like the research being done there is an attack on academic freedom.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • CalBoy

    “We didn’t do anything wrong,” said Gopal Dayaneni.
    By definition, civil disobedience is doing something wrong — something illegal.

  • I_h8_disqus

    Urinating on a police officer is not the way you gain respect of the community and prove that you are mature and doing something good for everyone.  And poor Gopal doesn’t seem to realize that it is wrong to destroy things that don’t belong to him.  The protesters could have achieved so much more through more traditional protest efforts like picketing the site, having residents sign petitions, and showing up in force at city counsel meetings.  Enthusiastic protesters just need to look at the occupy movement during the last year to understand that it doesn’t accomplish anything.  You need to protest smarter to achieve your goals.

    • Harold

      Another way to not get respect is trolling a student newspaper site.

      • I_h8_disqus

        I assume this is your way to disagree with what I said without actually telling people why you disagree?

        • Stan De San Diego

           CalBoy, like most silly little children who have not outgrown their adolescent rage issues with authority figures, has decided that anyone who doesn’t agree with him is trolling. Like most Occutards, he’s not bright enough to figure out why responsible, mature adults want nothing to do with him and his idiotic “movement”.

          • Berkeleyprotest

             and that is why Stan De San Diego spends most of his time trolling campus websites

      • guest

        How is that statement “trolling”?