Thursday, October 04, 2007

NBC 11: Judge Tours Cal Stadium, Oak Grove

Judge Tours Cal Stadium, Oak Grove

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The Alameda County Superior Court judge who stopped the building of a sports training facility on the UC Berkeley campus because of seismic safety and other concerns visited the site Thursday. From the roof of the stadium she viewed the controversial grove of oak trees where protesters have been living for more than 300 days. Miller did not interact with the protesters themselves or go into the oak grove, NBC11's Jodi Hernandez reported. Miller didn't say much, asked a few questions to her university tour guides, but mostly observed, Hernandez said. Miller spent about an hour at the stadium inspecting its physical condition, Hernandez said. Miller walked along the backside of the oak grove where she got a closer look at the trees protesters are fighting to save, Hernandez said. Both the university and the tree-sitters said they were glad the judge visited.

"We think it's great the judge came to see for herself with her own eyes what the state of the stadium is and why we need a new facility," said university spokesman Dan Mogulof. "I hope she can feel the power of this place and feel it in her heart that this is a heartfelt place," said tree-sitter Jess Walsh. "This is not a concrete box. This is not going to be a concrete box. These trees are sacred." At one point during the tour a tree-sitter came into the stadium and tried to talk to the judge, Hernandez said. University police quickly made him leave. Tree-sitters say they're disappointed the judge didn't get a closer look at the grove and where they have sat for months. Many said they were hoping she'd perhaps interact with them, but they said it's admirable she came regardless.

Police Van Fire Could Be Related To Tree-Sitters

UC Berkeley police are also investigating the torching of a campus police van. The fire was reported Thursday morning by a passerby outside Sproul Hall and is believed to be arson, according to a statement issued by campus officials. No one was injured in the incident. Campus officials, state fire marshals and federal investigators are working with UC police on the case. UC Berkeley police told NBC11 they have been questioning a person of interest who is associated with the tree-sitting protest. Officers said it was a person they have arrested before. The van was set on fire using some kind of flammable liquid, according to investigators.

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