ALBANY, Calif. — University of California police raided a four-week Occupy encampment at a college-owned farm used for agriculture research early Monday, arresting nine people after protesters ignored yet another weekend deadline to leave.
About 100 officers clad in riot gear arrived shortly after 6 a.m. at the camp known as Occupy the Farm, but there was no violence, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said.
Officers moved in after issuing a dispersal order to about 10 protesters sleeping at the Gill Tract in Albany, a 10-acre plot used primarily by UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.
Two protesters, both women, were arrested on trespassing charges while the other occupiers left voluntarily. Seven protesters were also arrested for unlawful assembly.
Monday’s raid allows UC faculty and students to begin planting their research crops.
“We simply could not wait any longer,” Mogulof said, adding, “If our faculty and students couldn’t get in this week to begin planting research crops, we would’ve lost a full year of work.”
Protest organizers issued a statement Monday saying they planned to reassemble at a nearby community center Tuesday afternoon.
“UC needs to let go of control and supervision of this land,” said Anya Kamenskaya, a spokeswoman for the protesters. “For decades, it has fenced off this land from use by the community.”
Demonstrators moved onto the tract on Earth Day, April 22, and began planting their own crops to encourage urban agriculture and protest planned commercial housing development.
University officials said they tried negotiating, and they allowed protesters to join them at a meeting to discuss the tract’s future if they agreed to pack up and disperse.
Last week, the university filed a lawsuit against 14 unnamed protesters, claiming they conspired to cut locks, trespass and establish an illegal encampment.
On Friday, university officials said it would drop the lawsuit if protesters left the encampment peacefully and did not attempt to re-occupy the land.
Mogulof said UC intends to preserve as much of the crops planted by the protesters as possible.
He also added that there’s a slight possibility university officials would still be willing to talk to the protesters about using the land, but only on the university’s terms.