New People’s Park tree-sit calls on university to give back the park

Kevin Foote/Staff
Littlebird occupies a tree in People's Park.

In the wake of the tragic end to a demonstration staged a few weeks ago, a new tree-sitter has once again turned People’s Park into the site of protest.

Self-named Littlebird climbed into the same tree occupied in at least two previous tree-sits near the corner of Haste and Bowditch streets at about 11 p.m. Tuesday.

The last People’s Park tree-sit lasted just over a week and ended Sept. 6 when one of the protesters fell out of the tree. Unlike past tree-sitters, she was not tied into the tree at the time of the fall, according to Zachary RunningWolf, a local activist and organizer behind the tree-sit.

Littlebird said his tree-sit is a protest against the University of California’s ownership of the park and UCPD’s presence in patrolling the park. He added that his protest is also against curfew laws that prevent people from sleeping in the park.

“This is the People’s Park, and I am here first and foremost for the people,” Littlebird said. “It’s very important people have a place to express themselves freely … and I can’t think of a better place than People’s Park.”

According to UCPD Lt. Marc DeCoulode, police issued a trespassing admonition to the tree-sitter Wednesday night.

RunningWolf said the sit was prompted in part because the university has been cutting down trees in the park without consent from the “community.” He added that after the sit began, he heard that the campus intended on cutting down the cedar tree that the current and past tree-sitters have been using as their venue.

In response to safety concerns sparked by the last protest’s ending, RunningWolf said the responsibility lies with the university and added that the protest will end when the university relinquishes control of the park.

“If Cal wants everybody to be safe, just give the park to the people or the city of Berkeley, and we’ll stop protesting from high heights,” he said. “So it’s on Cal.”

According to a flier at the park, there will be a “take back the park meeting” at 1 p.m. Friday to “demand no new development by UC Berkeley.”

Sarah Burns is the lead crime reporter.