East Bay News
Occupy the Farm protesters rush back onto Gill Tract
ALBANY, Calif. (KGO) -- Early Monday evening, farm activists rushed back onto a plot of land owned by the University of California, where a few of them were arrested earlier in the day. It's happening at the "Gill Tract" in Albany.
The occupiers moved in over the weekend and began planting crops.
A leader of the farm activists told us they're still trying to decide what course of action to take. They're hoping more people will join them later on Monday night. They haven't ruled out occupying the plot. They want to send a message.
"This sustainable food production with no pesticides and no chemical fertilizer. It's better for anybody and better for the environment," said one farm activist.
The sudden wake-up call came at 4 a.m. Monday when UC police gave activists 10 minutes to get out. Police arrested four protesters who refused to leave the property. They were cuffed and led away to patrol cars.
"I demand to be released immediately. I'm a political prisoner. Let me go!!!" yelled one activist being placed into a patrol car.
As the sun came up, the farm activists were milling around the street in front of the property, waiting to retrieve their personal belongings. Police allowed two at a time to go back in and gather their equipment. The occupiers had been here since the weekend. More than a 100 people broke into the university-owned plot known as the Gill Tract. They tilled the soil and began planting crops.
"Kale, squash, tomatoes, basil... We had a field of wild flowers to bring in pollinators. It was a beautiful farm," said Leslie Haddock, an "Occupy the Farm" activist.
The university plans to develop the lot into a senior housing complex and a national chain grocery store. The activists have other plans for it.
"We feel that as public land, we all have a stake on what happens to it. We like to see it turned into an urban farm and we intend to see that happen," said Haddock.
Last spring, activists took over a part of the Gill Tract on the northern end. They continued to break into the property throughout the summer and part of the fall to care for the crops they were growing. Last May, nine Occupy protestors were arrested.
A group of residents, who are opposed to the Occupiers, were also out at the Gill Tract with signs on Monday evening.
The four university police officers are monitoring the situation. There was a warning from a sergeant, using a bullhorn, saying they would be arrested because they were trespassing. So there is a standoff, but it is a peaceful one.
occupy movement, uc berkeley, albany, berkeley, whole foods, protest, agriculture, east bay news, vic lee
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