We, citizens of Albany, California respectfully petition the City Council of Albany to:
1. Prohibit the use of firearms, tear gas, pepper spray, and/or any other crowd control agents by the University of California Police Department (hereinafter "UCPD") within the city limits of Albany, California including UC Village, Oceanview Elementary School and the Gill Tract; and
2. Prohibit the use of violence by the UCPD against any and all members of the Occupy the Farm movement on the Gill Tract Farm.
The Gill Tract Farm is currently the subject of a peaceful, disciplined protest action, the likes of which have not been witnessed by local residents in recent memory. Urban farmers, including UC graduates, Albany community members, and other East Bay residents, have been clearing weeds, planting seed starts, and demonstrating their genuine desire and support for an urban farm space in their community. The Gill Tract Farm’s growth and evolution as a community farm is materializing before the eyes of the public.
Families from the East Bay have brought their children to the Gill Tract Farm to engage in lessons that up until this past week have never been available in their community: to plant seeds, to learn about permaculture and to grow their own food. To date, the farmers have built a temporary schoolhouse for workshops, planted a children’s garden across the street from Ocean View Elementary School, and have even screened movies such as “The Lorax” for local children. Through the implementation of these projects, Occupy the Farm has meaningfully demonstrated the positive impact of the Gill Tract Farm to our Community, and have earned our support.
While the UC currently allows research to be conducted on the Gill Tract Farm, they have simultaneously exploited its exceptionally fertile soil through its endeavors with Capital Projects, the development arm of UC Berkeley. Furthermore, since 1928 (when the Gill Tract arrived into the trusted hands of the UC) the UC has parceled, sold and developed ninety percent (90%) of the 104 acre plot.
Such actions on the part of the UC have deeply wounded the possibility of good faith negotiations between Albany residents, advocates of the Gill Tract, including Occupy the Farm, and UC itself. For over a decade and despite the UC’s egregious conduct, the Community faithfully pursued meaningful dialogue through appropriate channels with the UC in the hopes of transitioning the Gill Tract from a research site (which allowed the UC to close it to the public) to an urban agricultural site, open to the community.
Unfortunately, the UC continued to barricade the Community’s efforts toward meaningful negotiations at every opportunity. The Bay Area Coalition for Urban Agriculture (“BACUA”) initially submitted a proposal in 1997, and subsequent efforts in collaboration with community organizations and individuals in 2000, 2005 have fallen consistently, without fail, upon UC’s deaf ears.