I and other farmers were awakened this morning to the sound of police bullhorns, informing us that UCPD were barricading the West entrance of the Gill Tract on Jackson St. and that they were deploying at the East entrance on San Pablo.
In response, occupiers have moved some of their tools and infrastructure off site, in anticipation of a possible raid at some point tonight or early tomorrow morning. In the meantime, other infrastructure has been moved to the Southern lot on the tract, tents and tools may also be moved there. Occupiers have voiced a willingness to work with UC and researchers, giving them access to the areas on the tract they require [and will require, such as the western area of the tract where research corn is set to be planted]; moving the camp occupation–which has the singular goal of securing the farm–to the adjacent lot will allow that cooperation, moving the ball into UC’s court.
The occupation has a lot of support from neighboring UC Village and adjacent neighborhoods. Earlier this morning, a livid parent excoriated police who had promised parents from the local school just a dozen yards from the farm that no police raid would occur during school hours. Indeed, at 6am, police announced the possible use of chemical agents and ballistic rounds, within close range of the school. Other neighbors congregated around the site, and stood at the fence line in support, helping occupiers evacuate some of the more precious items on the farm in case of an immediate raid. Local supporters also congregated in front of Albany City Hall, just across the street from the farm, to insist that the city do something to control the actions from UC.
This morning’s actions are like a raid in slow motion and it’s not clear whether it is merely another empty escalation of the kind UC has been staging in order to intimidate and peel off supporters, or whether the UCPD do intend to conduct a police action in the near future. In any case, farmer have continued to work, and show no signs of wilting.
By 8am, Occupy Farmers were also helping Miguel Altieri, a researcher whose current crop was slated for planting today, begin his work. From almost any perspective, UC has no legitimate reason to remove the Occupiers.