Requiem for a Tree Sit
Too much ink has already been spilled on a fiasco that is, finally, mercifully, over. But I did want to offer a final thought on the erstwhile occupation of the trees. Although the protesters squatted in the trees for nearly two years, their presence was completely inconsequential for all but five days. Until last Thursday, the University, in deference to the rule of law and the injunctions that were in place, voluntarily restrained itself from cutting down a single tree. The protestors’ flaunting of the rule of law didn’t matter one bit because the University wasn’t going to act until the lawsuit was resolved anyway.
And then Thursday’s ruling arrived. And what did the protesters do? At the precise moment when their protest could finally be consequential, they caved. Less than twenty-four hours after the appellate decision, the grove was gone, and the protesters were relegated to a single dying redwood. And yesterday, the protesters gave up even that last shred of purpose by voluntarily descending without resistance.
So what was the point of all this. Twenty months in a tree when it didn’t matter; five days in the tree when it does? I’d hope this would inspire some self-reflection on the part of the Berkeley protest community and reevaluation of both goals and tactics (though years of observation leave me cynical on that point). In the meantime, the rest of us can at least revel in the new page the University community has turned today. May these developments improve the greatest university on the face of the planet. Go Bears!
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