Tree-Sitters Remain For Third UC Berkeley Football Season

This story was written by Joseph Bui, Daily Californian


Saturday's football game was a landmark one for the tree-sitters, who have now spent their third consecutive football season watching the game from their places in the trees.

In preparation for the 60,000 fans who would come to watch the game at the stadium, campus officials increased security and sent an open letter to fans asking for their cooperation in interacting with the tree-sitters.

However, their concerns seemed to be largely unfounded. According to UCPD, four arrests were made during Saturday's football game, but none were related to the protest at the oak grove.

Instead, supporters of the tree-sit used the game as an opportunity to spread their message to largely unresponsive fans.

Standing on a sidewalk next to a tent that he and others call home-at least on game day-Zachary RunningWolf, the unofficial leader of the tree-sit, attempted to rally passing fans to

action in order to help him fight UC Berkeley, which he called a "powerful" and "evil corporation."

After a group of onlookers spent a few minutes listening to RunningWolf, John Friesen, a tree-sit supporter, said that people will listen if the issue is important.

"(Berkeley) attracts a lot of people who are conscious and friendly," he said.

But some said that listening to what the tree-sitters have to say does not mean they support what they stand for.

"If one of the tree-sitters started speaking, I might listen for the novelty of it all," said Kyle Mash, who graduated from Michigan State in 2007. "It wouldn't change my mind though. At this point, they've already lost and I'm not sure (tree-sitting) can do anything to change that."

UC Berkeley freshman Monica Chen, who said she has attended campus football games at the stadium for much of her life, was one of many who quickly walked past the tree-sitters without giving the group a second look.

"There isn't any tension between fans and the tree-sitters," Chen said. "The (UC Berkeley) student body is really diverse. We're okay with people who don't always think like us."

But not all fans were as accommodating as Chen.

At the end of the game, a small crowd had gathered on the rim of the stadium to view the tree-sitters. Some booed the protesters while others gave them thumbs down.

Some visiting Michigan State fans, many who had their first encounter with the tree-sitters, said they were intrigued, but not bothered by the protest.

While Mash called their presence a "novelty," he also said it did not detract from his game-day experience.

"Something like this would have never happened at Michigan State," he said. "But it doesn't bother me because I don't think it's mean-spirited."
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