On January 12th, two University of California police officers used pepper spray to disperse about 15 people gathered below an occupied redwood tree on Science Hill at UC Santa Cruz. The officers got out of their car, which was parked in the parking lot, and then followed the people dressed in black and wearing bandannas across their faces. One of the officers proclaimed that the group was trespassing and then both officers began pepper spraying people in their faces.
No one was apprehended by the two officers and more police quickly arrived on the scene. Two bags, which appeared to contain food items, were left below the tree until an officer took them to the backseat of a police car. Several police cars rapidly drove away from Science Hill and may have been pursuing the group which they accused of assisting trespassers.
Shortly after the pepper spraying, three tree-sitters came down to the lower branches of the redwood and discussed some of their motivations with a group of inquisitive supporters. One the tree-sitters spoke of how he grew up in Santa Cruz and developed a deep passion for the trees at UCSC. Since being in the tree, he has come to more fully appreciate the relationship other animals have with the redwoods.
A student stood below the tree and told people in and below the tree that the reason he was there was because he received an email from UCSC telling him to avoid the tree-sit. The tree-sitters thanked their inquisitive supporters for the good conversation and encouraged people to stop by anytime with food or for conversation. A few final suggestions from a tree-sitter were that people should be more casual and come during the day in smaller groups when the police are not around.
For more information about the tree-sit on Science Hill against UCSC expansion and the increased police repression, see:
Eyewitness Report of Police Attacking Two People at UCSC
Winter Break at the UCSC Tree-sit
Santa Cruz Community Supports Tree-sitters
Standoff with Police as Activists Occupy Redwoods to Oppose UCSC Expansion
Crossposted at Indybay.org.