Thursday, October 04, 2007

KGO: Tree Protesters Torch Police Van; Video of Judge Touring Stadium

Here is the link.

BERKELEY, Calif., Oct. 4, 2007(KGO) - UC Berkeley Police say someone torched one of their vans overnight, and investigators believe the crime could be linked to the dispute involving a group of tree sitters. All this as a judge visited the campus today to take a look at UC's expansion plans.  UC Police say that on September 23rd, tree sitters threatened to throw molotov cocktails at UC police cars. On Thursday they found that a van had been fire bombed overnight. That whole incident was complicated by the in-person visit from a judge, not related to the fate of the tree sitters, but one who decides the fate of the whole UC expansion project.  Judge Barbara Miller arrived at Memorial Stadium on the UC Berkeley campus for a tour.

"As per her request, we are taking her through the stadium, we're giving her a look at the state of the facilities, the dangerous cramped nature of the quarters that our student athletes are crammed into at the moment, and hopefully she'll understand why we need to construct the new athletic center immediately adjacent to the stadium," said UC Spokesman Dan Mogulof.  University officials complied and walked her up, down and around the stadium with lawyers representing the three plaintiffs who are challenging UC's proposed athletic expansion.  "This site here on the Memorial Stadium right on top the Hayward fault -- it's very complicated issues -- and we're really glad to see the judge coming here looking at these issues on site," said Michael Kelly of the Panoramic Hill Association.  The neighborhood group, the city of Berkeley and the California Oak Foundation say a $120 million new sports training center and underground parking garage would violate environmental laws. The project was halted in January and the decision now rests with Judge Miller. She walked past the grove of Oak trees where protesters have roosted in the branches to block the expansion.  Thursday, campus police searched a car in front of the Oak grove, saying they were talking to a previously arrested tree sitter who they say may be responsible for throwing a flammable liquid into a UC Police van at 5:50 this morning.

"This is an individual who we have interest in who had made some comments early on about threats to the police department," said UC Berkeley Asst. Police Chief Mitch Celaya.

"That's just way too convenient for the university. I don't believe it for a minute," said Zachary Running Wolf, a tree sitting supporter (Note from Blogger: He’s also a convicted vandal).  Meanwhile, the judge wanted to tour other parts of the UC campus and even looked over Golden Gate Fields once an alternative site for Cal's athletic expansion proposal. The judge will be back in the courtroom on Tuesday following today's field trip.  UC officials say that so far the delays cost them about six million dollars in increased construction costs for the expansion. Both sides will be back in court for closing arguments next hope. They all hope that this will be resolved by the end of the year.

No comments: