July 16, 2005

CUPD Issues Redbud Citations

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Tensions continued to escalate at the site of the Redbud Woods today, as police began handing out citations to protesters and a chain-link fence was erected around the area.

At 8:15 yesterday morning, Stephen Golding, executive vice president, read a trespassing notice to protesters, informing them that “any persons within the fenced-in perimeter must leave immediately,” and that “any unauthorized persons would receive citations for trespassing.”

This announcement came after the erection of a temporary orange construction fence on Wednesday. Throughout yesterday, a seven-foot high steel chain link fence was installed around the property, along with trespassing violation notices.

As of late yesterday afternoon, 48 citations for trespassing have been issued, many to senior faculty members including Prof. Thomas Eisner, neurobiology and behavior, as well as Ben Nichols, former mayor of Ithaca. According to Blaine Friedlander, news service assistant director, “people were violating the trespassing order in an organized fashion — stepping over the fence and then being handed citations by the police.”

“The protesters were very polite,” he said.

“We were asked to keep the peace, to make sure that the fence gets up and the crews can get in,” said Lt. Kathy Zoner of the Cornell University Police Department. She added that the police were told to issue appearance notices to anyone who trespassed.

One arrest was also made shortly after Golding’s announcement. Marvin Warren, an Ithaca resident, was apprehended for disorderly conduct after trying to save a “lockbox” — a device which the protesters use to literally chain themselves to the forest floor — from police destruction. After being taken to Barton Hall, Warren was taken to the courthouse in Ithaca where a trial date was set. He was released and back at Redbud Woods a short time later.

“It seems like there was a mismanagement of the situation,” said Warren. “The police were not acting in good faith even after the protesters were asked to act in good faith.”

At 1:40 yesterday afternoon, faculty protesters requested and were granted a two-hour moratorium on the distribution of citations so that faculty, students and community members could reformulate their game plan in light of the morning’s events.

Lynne Feeley ’06, who lives in a co-op adjacent to the woods and has been active in the protest effort, said that “it was a consensus-based meeting to discuss our strategy.”

She added that the decision of the group was “to continue to occupy the woods, and also to represent a document stating our position to the administration.”

Another protester, Patrick Young ’06, supported the decision to remain stationed in the woods despite the threats of trespassing violation and arrest. He stated that a crucial step would be for protesters to physically occupy the area.

“Redbud Woods is a Hunter Rawlings-free zone,” he explained. “If they want the woods, they’ll have to come to the table.”

The protesters intend to camp in the woods until they are forcibly removed. In addition to sleeping areas set up near the lockboxes, which are jokingly referred to as “lockdown town,” several of the protestors have occupied platforms suspended high in the trees.

According to Feeley, “there has been a generous outpouring from the community in terms of both food and supplies.”

Several faculty members were also on hand to protest the renewed construction effort, although as of Friday afternoon it was not known whether faculty members would remain inside the fenced-in perimeter.

In addition to conducting ongoing negotiations with the administration, the involved faculty members have been contacting and updating trustees and members of the executive committee.

According to Prof. Martin Hatch, music and Asian studies, “everyone in the faculty group holds in common that Cornell needs to be more vigilant in conserving its resources than it has in the past.”

He also said that the construction of this parking lot “is only the tip of the iceberg, but it is indicative of bigger problems.”

Prof. Elizabeth Sanders, government, added, “I’ll be here until the bitter end. I love these trees and I don’t want to see them cut.”

Archived article by Julie Zeveloff
Sun Staff Writer