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8 UES Residents, Including 3 Grandmothers, Arrested In Tree Removal Protest

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Eight Upper East Side residents, including three grandmothers, were arrested Friday for trying to stop the city from cutting down trees.

The "UES Eight" were held for five hours at the 19th Precinct so police could do criminal background checks, CBS 2's Marcia Kramer reported.

They faced disorderly conduct and obstruction charges.

The Upper Eastsiders' cries were heartrending but futile in a last-ditch effort to stop the city from cutting down eight 30-year-old pear trees at Asphalt Green as part of building a new garbage transfer station, Kramer reported.

The protesters were furious at Mayor Bill de Blasio for ordering the so-called "arboricide."

Barbara Heyman
Barbara Heyman arrested in UES tree removal protest (CBS 2)

Barbara Heyman was among those handcuffed and photographed by cops before being carted away.

"I hope Mayor de Blasio will listen to us and realize money could be better spent in improving education," Heyman said. "Listen, I'm 80 years old. If I have a record for a good cause, it's OK with me."

"I'm 77 years old," added protestor Joan Cavanaugh. "I'm here because I'm an American. I'm a New York citizen. I have the right to protest something that I think is inhumane."

Members of the community were furious, Kramer reported.

"When you're arresting grandmas on the Upper East Side and people of color who live in NYCHA developments you're doing something wrong," NYC Councilman Ben Kallos said.

"The police should be doing something other than arresting our grandparents," Kallos added.

"All my years in public life, I have never seen anything like this," Rep. Carolyn Maloney told Kramer. "I am used to the police protecting people, not coming out and arresting people at a community protest."

City officials said the trees have to come down to make way for a construction ramp, but community officials say maybe not because the city is considering a proposal to relocate the ramp, Kramer reported.

"We think that we did need to take down the trees in order to take down the ramp -- even if we move it," Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. "I feel like we've been very sensitive to community concerns. We really want to make sure that we are good neighbors and are operating in a way that's safe for all involved."

City Councilman Stephen Levin told Kramer building the transfer station in Manhattan is just plain fair.

"Every community should be able to take care of some of the burden of our solid waste stream. We all produce garbage, we all produce waste. We all need to handle it accordingly," Levin said. "It is unfair for some communities to not take up any of the burden."

"No other transfer station anywhere is situated where you got 34,000 kids," said Bertha Lewis of the Black Institute. "It makes no sense."

Four of the protesters apparently told police officers that they wanted to arrange beforehand to be arrested, Kramer reported.

That's something that Mayor de Blasio should understand really well. It's very similar to the situation last summer when he was arrested protesting the closing of the Long Island College Hospital, Kramer reported.

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