by Rachel Swan
A missive sent this morning amid the raid at Albany's Occupy the Farm protest said the group would reconvene tomorrow afternoon to plan its next step. But the future is a little hazy for this rogue group of well-intentioned agriculturalists, who spent roughly three weeks tilling two acres of arable land on a parcel owned by UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources, and commandeering additional space for its makeshift encampment. The protesters argued that the 10 acres at Gill Tract, which contain Class 1 soil, evidently the best kind for growing edible crops. It's currently being allocated for agricultural experiments, many of which involve corn.
On Saturday protesters tried to partially mollify UC administrators by removing their tents from the Gill Tract property, where they had been camping and farming since April 22. (Spokesperson Ashoka Finley called it a "good faith gesture.") But it was too little, too late, given that UC had already filed a lawsuit against 14 members of the protest. This morning at around 7 a.m., UC police arrived to the 10-acre tract in riot gear, blocked off traffic at the corner of Marin and San Pablo Avenues, and ordered the occupiers to disperse. Nine were arrested on charges of trespassing and unlawful assembly, the Chron reports.
At 8:44 a.m. Occupiers sent out a mass text calling for support to watch the farm, and announcing plans to reconverge at Albany Library tomorrow at 5 p.m.
Here's some video of Finley discussing the raid and the Occupiers' raison d'être in front of a line of riot police: