UCPD arrested six encampment members protesting UC Berkeley’s maintenance work on Tuesday, which included the removal of “five diseased or damaged trees” at People’s Park, according to a campus press release.
Of the six arrested, four were confirmed as Bay Area residents and one as a visitor from Seattle, according to a UC Berkeley press release. James Cartmill, Richard Dellantonio, Peter Lorentzen, Michelle Lot and Jesse Timms were arrested on suspicion of “unlawful camping and storage of items” as well as curfew violation on UC property. Also arrested on suspicion of “unlawful camping and storage of items” was UC Berkeley sophomore Vincent Catheline.
California Highway Patrol officers helped UCPD sweep the park Tuesday. The cost of sweeping will be released later “when all costs have been received,” according to the press release. Although the campus did not release the number of officers involved, former City Council candidate and People’s Park activist Aidan Hill, who was present at the park on Tuesday, said that the number of officers was “well over 100.”
Tuesday’s tree removal and related protest unfolded in a similar manner to last month’s maintenance when the campus cleared 38 trees. Controversy has surrounded People’s Park since UC Berkeley released plans to develop housing for students and the homeless on the site in May 2018.
The maintenance project is unrelated to campus housing plans and has taken place on “more than a dozen campus sites,” according to the press release. Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof previously told The Daily Californian that the trees’ pruning and removal are necessary due to possible lighting interference, proximity to power lines and the trees’ poor, potentially hazardous states.
After the campus cleared the 38 trees in late December, protesters established the encampment which, according to the press release, has since fluctuated between 10 and 50 people. Since its establishment, UCPD “repeatedly and regularly” informed its members that they were breaking the law. On Tuesday, many of the encampment’s members were arrested, according to the press release.
The encampment formed after the park was regularly “cleared of occupants,” according to the press release, which said that the clearing process will now continue every evening going forward, enforcing the law prohibiting overnight camping.
“These people are homeless and they are either sleeping on the sidewalk or sleeping under trees. (The campus) took their homes from them,” Hill said. “The people of People’s Park love UC Berkeley, they just want to go home.”
Mogulof said in response that the campus informed the homeless encampment members of open space in local shelters that were and are available to them.
“Sleeping in the park has never been permitted,” Mogulof said. “The park has been cleared every night for more than 20 years and therefore no homes were ‘taken.’ ”