BERKELEY – Rejecting all claims that a recently constructed temporary fence had any purpose other than public safety, an Alameda County Superior Court judge on Thursday (Aug. 30) rebuffed an effort to remove the fence surrounding protesters encamped in trees next to UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. In a ruling issued Thursday evening, Judge Barbara Miller allowed the chain-link fence, erected Wednesday morning, to remain in place around some of the oak trees west of the stadium, where activists opposed to the university's plans to construct a new student-athlete high performance center have been staging a treetop vigil since last December.
In a declaration submitted earlier Thursday to Judge Miller, UC Police Chief Victoria Harrison cited more than 155 violations and 98 arrests or citations of protesters outside the stadium since December as she outlined in detail the need for erecting a temporary fence at the site in advance of Saturday's season-opening football game. "Safe management of the site requires a physical barrier between protesters and visitors to the site," Harrison said in her five-page declaration. The university plans to build a student-athlete high performance center at the site, immediately west of the stadium. The declaration noted that the protesters are in violation of state trespass laws and university policies regulating time, place, and manner of public expression. The protesters, some of whom are occupying trees that will need to be removed to build the student-athlete facility, had sought a temporary restraining order to remove the fence. Among the protesters' claims was that the university's actions were depriving them of food and water. The campus's attorney told the judge that the protesters in the trees have adequate supplies of food and water.
In her declaration, Harrison cited the following:
· her staff have individually reported over 155 violations, of which 98 resulted in arrests of or citations to protesters at the site.
· numerous reported incidents of individuals in drive-by vehicles heckling and throwing items at the protesters.
· numerous reported incidents of protesters heckling, spitting, and pouring urine and excrement on officers and others standing underneath the trees.
· individuals in the trees currently have buckets of feces, urine, and rotted food
· hostility expressed on YouTube, blogs, and Internet bulletin boards between protesters and football fans.
· Further, she said that protesters have "vandalized trees, disrupted classes, conducted unauthorized events... In addition, the protesters became increasingly uncooperative with police and refused to follow lawful directions which resulted in protesters physically resisting officers. Also various protesters were involved in thefts and unauthorized removal of property from the International House and Memorial Stadium."
· The first football game of the season is Saturday. More than 70,000 spectators are expected to attend the game, which "potentially creates a very volatile situation," said Harrison.
Fans attending Saturday's game are urged to use the north and south entrances to Memorial Stadium to avoid any possible congestion on the west side, where the fenced safety zone blocks some of the normal approaches to the stadium.