Thursday, September 1, 2011

Man Lives in Tree to Protest Harassment of Counter Culture Youth

A man who goes by the moniker Moonshadow is living in a cedar tree in Berkeley's People's Park. (Photo by Doug Oakley)

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Bay Area News Group
A 26-year-old man who calls himself Moonshadow has taken up residence in a cedar tree in UC Berkeley's People's Park to protest harassment of counterculture youth everywhere, he said.
UC Berkeley police have been trying to get him to come down in a scene reminiscent of a 2008 protest at the site of a new student athletic training center. Tree sitters were then protesting the elimination of trees in construction plans, but eventually came down. The university cut down the trees and started work on the center.
Moonshadow declined to give his real name, saying because he is afraid federal authorities will use the Patriot Act to detain him.
UC Berkeley police have contacted him before about trespassing and say he is in violation of a "campus exclusion order."
On Thursday after the police unsuccessfully tried to get him to come down, he was sitting on a limb writing a letter to university and local business leaders protesting treatment of the homeless who live in the park by day and sleep on sidewalks surrounding the park at night.
He said the police take their belongings and constantly harass them. He is also enraged by ongoing efforts by UC to carry out landscaping chores in the park.
"I've seen the same thing in Arcata and Santa Cruz where counterculture youth hang out," Moonshadow said. "Wherever we are, (authorities) start cutting down trees in the name of landscaping. It's like they're taking out their aggression on mother earth."
UC Berkeley police spokesman Marc DeCoulode said the department will continue monitoring Moonshadow but has no plans to remove him.
"We haven't cited him because he hasn't come down," DeCoulode said. "While he is breaking the rules about being in the tree and trespassing in the park at night, he doesn't appear to be a threat to public safety so we're going to continue to monitor the situation."
Moonshadow said he is originally from Colorado and has been working on his teaching credential at Colorado State University. He's been on the West Coast, however, for about a year and a half and has been in the Berkeley tree for four days now.
Moonshadow said University of California police have tried to get him down several times, but not by force.
"The truth is, I'm sitting up here peaceably, and they come out here with nine to 12 officers in the middle of the night and to try and intimidate me," he said.
Moonshadow said he probably would come down if the police just ignored him, but he will stay as long as they continue to make his presence an issue.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at

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