University of California, Berkeley police arrested four people Monday morning and a plow turned under crops planted in protest at a makeshift farm encampment set up on university property.
Activists had occupied a tract of farmland -- located near the corner of Marin and San Pablo avenues, part of a property they referred to as the Gill Tract -- owned by the university on Friday, protesting plans to build senior housing and a grocery store on the site.
But after a weekend of trespassing warnings, police moved in during the pre-dawn hours Monday, removing the protesters’ tents and arresting one individual.
A plow also arrived later Monday morning and began turning under crops planted by the protesters. Three others were arrested at that time.
More than 100 protesters who had gathered on the tract pulled weeds and planted some 8,000 plants over the weekend. About 20 of them had set up tents and were camping overnight at the site.
Protest leader Lesley Haddock said the group was planting zucchini, kale, summer squash, collards and other vegetation.
"The Gill Tract is a really prime piece of a larger puzzle for us to move away from industrialized agriculture and toward people controlling their own food systems," said Haddock, a third-year student in UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources.
"I'd really like to see the UC fulfill its public mission of being a resource for California and really serving the public, and it worries me that the university has been trending toward privatization over the last decade," she said.
Watchdogs are questioning an exclusive agreement between the City of Oakland and a non-profit group, tapped to lead a multi-million dollar project to redevelop the area around the Coliseum BART station.