Occupy L.A. Tree Sitter Not Yet a Concern for LAPD

Photo by Tom Andrews

The deadline has passed for Occupy L.A. protesters to leave their encampment on the lawn of City Hall, but many protesters are staying. It's an act of civil disobedience that, after a final dispersal order is given by law enforcement, will land many of them in jail (that is if a federal judge doesn't rule against the city in a restraining order submitted by protesters to stop the eviction).

And if that order is given and arrests occur, one man will likely still be occupying, perhaps for some time. At some point Sunday night or Monday morning, a protester climbed some 20-feet up a tree and hung a sign: "Still Occupied." This morning he was still there.

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Photo by Tom Andrews

"At this point it's not a real big concern to us," said Los Angeles Police Lt. Andy Nieman, who noted that the tree-sitter and the rest of the remaining protesters at City Hall Park are all in violation of the park being closed.

Tree sitting in activism is no stranger to California. Julia Butterfly Hill stayed in a redwood tree for 738 days to stop it from being cut down by loggers in the late 90s. John Quigley sat in a Santa Clarita Valley oak tree for 71 days in an attempt to stop it from being chopped down in the early aughts. Both Hill and Quigley protested the closure of the South Central Farm in 2006 by tree sitting with actor Daryl Hannah and folk singer Joan Baez. Later that year a nearly two-year tree sit-in at U.C. Berkley known as the oak grove controversy began (most recently, one of those tree sitters, Zachary Running Wolf, took to a tree at Occupy Oakland). And earlier this year, four environmental protesters--Quigley, again, included--sat in trees in Arcadia.

Nieman said if the protester does not voluntarily leave the tree--a cherry picker will be offered to assist--there are methods to safely extract him, including sending SWAT team members up there.

And if tree sitting was not enough, a tree house has also been built in another portion of the park.

Photo by Tom Andrews

Photo by Tom Andrews

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