Campus gives protesters final deadline to dismantle encampment

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UC Berkeley administrators set a Saturday deadline for protesters occupying UC-owned land in Albany to disband the camp and enter into discussions with the campus about continuing urban farming there.

In a statement issued Friday, Executive Vice President and Provost George Breslauer and Vice Chancellor of Administration and Finance John Wilton announced that Keith Gilless, dean of the College of Natural Resources, will lead a planning meeting Saturday morning to work out how the Gill Tract will be shared by researchers and “urban agriculture.”

The administrators invited two members of the occupation to attend the meeting provided that the encampment is disbanded by Saturday at 10 a.m, according to the statement.

“This is the final opportunity for them to enter discussions if they want to keep urban agriculture continuing,” said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof. “We’re going to do our best to make sure one way or another that research will start.”

According to Anya Kamenskaya, an Occupy the Farm spokesperson, the group will meet tonight to decide its response to the deadline.

Breslauer and Wilton also state that the lawsuit brought against 15 of the protesters — including two UC Berkeley students — by the university Wednesday will be dropped if the encampment is dismantled.

Mogulof said Elizabeth Fairweather, one of the UC Berkeley students named in the suit, was removed from the lawsuit. He said she was named in the suit because someone bearing her likeness had been photographed at the encampment. However, Fairweather said in an email that she has been studying abroad in Peru since March.

The encampment began on April 22 when protesters took over the plot of land used for research just across the Albany border. Their intention was to start a sustainable urban farm and protest the campus’ plans to develop part of the land south of the encampment for future commercial use.

In the past week, UCPD has put increased pressure on the protesters to dismantle the encampment by blocking vehicle access to the Gill Tract Wednesday and pedestrian access on Thursday. Some protesters have been climbing the fence to enter tract, and according to UCPD spokesperson Cpt. Margo Bennett, UCPD currently does not have the resources to arrest each individual who jumps over.

“We’re working with the administration, and at the proper timing, we will be taking possession of the Gill Tract,” Bennett said. “We have controlled the entrance and exit points, and when the administration gives us the resources and constructions to act, we will certainly be prepared to do that.”

Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.