Cal stops building at Neighborhood Park as a result of ‘violence’

UC Berkeley said Wednesday afternoon that it was pausing construction that began this morning on a student housing project at Community Park due to “destruction of construction materials, illegal protest activity, and violence.”

Police in riot gear descended on the block-square plot of land just off Telegraph Avenue before sunrise to clear a small homeless campus and fence off the area. A work crew arrived on site as soon as the sun came up, bringing in construction equipment and felling trees.

A tree worker fell in Community Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

“They are cutting down trees in the park right now with a chainsaw,” said Ramon Mendoza, who is part of a movement to preserve the park. Video posted on Twitter at 9:36 am the tree work showed in progress.

CHRON posting video at 9:23 am of protesters blocking construction trucks “to stop them from clearing any trees.”

As the day progressed, more protesters descended on the area, pulling down the fence and flooding the park.

Protesters try to push down a fence in People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Protesters try to push down a fence in People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

UC Berkeley said some arrests were made, but could not provide detailed information on numbers and charges as of 2 p.m.


The Protect the Community Park group said Early in the morning there were several forklifts, large moving vehicles and trucks to fence at the park before sunrise.

“They are throwing residents’ goods away,” the group wrote on Twitter.

The university said in a statement that when work began this morning, there were two or three homeless people in the park who had been “previously offered shelter, it was announced several times that the park was to be closed soon, and she was informed that overnight camping in the park is involved. It’s not allowed.”

“Last night, shelter, transportation and other storage for belongings was again made available to everyone when the park was closed, an offer that is still available to everyone who needs it,” the university said.

People block contractors and their equipment used to cut down trees from leaving Community Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

People block contractors and their equipment used to cut down trees from leaving Community Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

An Alameda County Superior Court judge ruled Friday that UC Berkeley can begin construction on a A 16-story building which will include more than 1,100 students.

Activists and student groups stood on the fence protesting the closing of the park. They have long disputed the university project and called for public green space to be retained on the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Heavy machinery is seen toppling a redwood tree at People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Heavy machinery is seen toppling a redwood tree at People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

Located in the middle of the high-priced and very tight Bay Area real estate market, UC Berkeley faces a shortage of student housing; According to a 2017 survey, it has “the lowest percentage of beds for its students of any campus in the UC System.” The survey also found that 10% of respondents self-identified as having experienced homelessness at some point while attending UC Berkeley.

In addition to student housing, the Community Park housing complex would provide up to 125 apartments offering supportive housing with on-site services for homeless and low-income residents, as well as landscaped open areas.

Protesters sit on top of a structure in People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Protesters sit on top of a structure in People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

“More than 60% of the 2.8 acre site will be preserved as open space and revitalized into a renewed park space that reinforces the history of the site,” the university said. said. The site will also include “a memorial to the historic and historical significance of the park.”

The university’s plans also include providing interim housing for individuals living in Community Park, with services to support transition to permanent housing, which website committed to the project says.

This is a developing story and details will be added as they become available.

A lone protester sits in the last standing redwood tree in People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

A lone protester sits in the last standing redwood tree in People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

Police monitor an entrance previously used by contractors to enter the fenced area at People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Police monitor an entrance previously used by contractors to enter the fenced area at People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

Sign announcing

A sign proclaiming “53 years of resistance” is seen in People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

A person shakes his finger at a California Highway Patrol officer during a protest at People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

A person shakes his finger at a California Highway Patrol officer during a protest at People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

A protester is led away by police after being detained during a protest at People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

A protester is led away by police after being detained during a protest at People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

Protesters talk to each other as California Highway Patrol officers police a protest at People's Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Protesters talk to each other as California Highway Patrol officers police a protest at People’s Park in Berkeley, California, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022.

Jungho Kim/Special to SFGATE

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