Protesters in Berkeley: Up a Tree and Fenced In

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treesitter.jpeg

Okay, so it’s Berkeley, not a stranger to protests, but this week’s tree shenanigans both play to the historic hippies-in-dreads protest image as well as highlight the era of strapped campuses cracking down on activism in the name of growth.

In case you haven’t heard, UC Berkeley students and city residents have been living in oak trees on campus for the past 10 months, protesting their razing for the building of a new sports complex.

This week the protests have elevated to arrests, and even construction. Wednesday, campus police put up an 8-foot chain-link fence meant to both keep protesters inside the grove as well as to prevent conflicts when 72,000 people descend on the area for tomorrow’s Cal football game against Tennessee.

The sitters are now going it alone. No one can give them food or water, and once they leave the fenced area they are not allowed to return. This morning, one protester was arrested after putting his arm around a police officer and touching him with a lavender incense wand. “Why is he being arrested?” asked a student. “Battery,” the officer replied.

The $125 million sports complex will replace the seismically shaky (and already-cracked) Memorial Stadium, and it will also allow the cash-strapped university to bring in big name recruits, football and otherwise, which can translate into millions a year in revenue. This year Cal is ranked #12 in the nation going into the college football season, something that will bring the university millions in television revenue alone.

Really though, Cal has bigger worries than tree sitters. The city has sued the school to halt construction because the new complex will rest squarely where the old stadium does, on the Hayward Fault. And when it comes to earthquakes, my money’s on the oak trees to be left standing.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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