Thursday, May 10th, 2012, Albany, CA – Today at noon, the UCPD closed off the last remaining pedestrian access to the Gill Tract by chaining and locking the gate at San Pablo and Marin Avenues. For the past 24 hours, that gate had remained open. Despite a heavy police presence, people had been able to enter and exit freely.
This represents the latest in a series of measures taken by the UC Administration to force the Farmers off of this piece of public farmland. To date, the UCPD has cut off all water to the Gill Tract, incapacitated the fire hydrant on the land, placed concrete barriers around the land to prevent vehicular access, and locked all entrances shut.
Farmers note that these actions threaten more than just their plants: that in this dry, windy weather, which poses a high fire-risk, there are no working fire hydrants on the land, and significantly restricted access points for firefighters and exits for people on the land.
“The UC Administration is preventing scientists from carrying out their research on the Gill Tract,” said Effie Rawlings, one of the spokespeople for the Gill Tract Farmers Collective.
For the second day, UC Berkeley Professor Miguel Altieri has come to the Gill Tract to attempt to plant his crops. Whereas the Gill Tract Farmers Collective has directly assisted Altieri with his planting effort, the UCPD has physically prevented him from planting his dry-farmed tomato crop, saying he has no authorization to do his research.
“I am disappointed that the University has missed this opportunity to acknowledge that a coexistence of researchers and occupiers is possible, and that they have blocked access to my experimental plot,” Professor Altieri said.
A support rally has been called for 5pm TODAY at the San Pablo and Marin Avenue gate to the Gill Tract to resupply the farmers inside the GIll Tract with water for the crops, as well as food and drink. Supporters are encouraged to bring food, drinking water, large water containers such as gallon jugs, duct tape, and farming supplies to pass to people inside the fence. Supporters are also encouraged to bring camping supplies, to stay overnight, and help maintain a permanent presence outside the fence to defend and supply the farmers inside.
Effie Rawlings: 415-215-5464
Marika Iyer: 510-575-9979
Article source: GJEP Climate Connections Blog