University drops lawsuit against Occupy the Farm protesters

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A lawsuit filed by the UC Board of Regents against 15 members of Occupy the Farm was dropped Wednesday.

Filed by the UC on behalf of UC Berkeley, a statement released by the defendants’ legal counsel, Michael Siegel of Siegel & Yee, on Wednesday announced that the university would no longer be pursuing legal action against protesters involved in the Gill Tract encampment in Albany.

“We are not at all surprised that UC has walked away from what amounts to a frivolous lawsuit against a group of community activists committed to promoting sustainable urban agriculture on public lands,” said Stefanie Rawlings, one of the lawsuit defendants, in the statement. “What they need to do now is take the next step and let the public tend the crops.”

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said that while university attorneys were confident they would prevail, the decision to suspend the lawsuit was made in light of the fact that the campus has regained control of the tract, allowing research to resume.  The cost of continuing litigation and the lengthy process were also contributing factors, according to Mogulof.

“This is about trespassing,” Mogulof said. “The decision was the result of careful cost-benefit analysis, and the fact that our primary goals were achieved.”

Mogulof said if future attempts to interfere with research at the Gill Tract were to arise, the campus could potentially resume litigation.

Adelyn Baxter is the news editor.