Early Monday morning, UC Berkeley police literally plowed through an Occupy offshoot group's latest attempt to turn an empty plot of land into a community farm. More than 100 protesters came to the University of California-owned plot over the weekend hoping to protest a plan to turn the lot into senior housing and a grocery store.
Almost exactly a year ago, UC Police thought they had cleared out the camp at the Gill Tract once and for all, but protesters returned to this weekend to pull weeds, plant a vegetable garden and camp out on the land at the corner of Marin and San Pablo Avenues. About 20 people had set up tents on the land and planted over 8,000 seedlings of kale, zucchini, squash and other veggies. After sending out trespassing warnings to protesters all weekend, UC Police moved in early this morning around 4 a.m. and swept through the camp, removed tents and arrested one.
UC police officers originally allowed many of the protesters to retrieve their belongings and unplanted seedlings, but three more protesters were arrested later this morning when they tried to go back to working the land. One protester tried to block a tractor that was brought in to till the land and rip out the vegetable garden.
The land was previously used by UC Berkeley students for growing research crops, but was taken over by the Occupy group last year to protest a plan to turn the space into little league fields. The current development plan calls for senior housing and a grocery store, which the group believes is a harmful move towards industrialized agriculture. As the group's leader, a third-year student at Berkeley's college of natural resources told KTVU: "The Gill Tract is a really prime piece of a larger puzzle for us to move away from industrialized agriculture and toward people controlling their own food systems."
Previously: Occupy The Farm Cleared Out By UC Police One Last Time