Police, bulldozers besiege site of oak where tree-sitter holds protest

Police, security guards, construction crews and bulldozers besieged a centuries-old oak tree early Thursday where a man has been living for 70 days to protest the tree’s impending relocation due to a road-widening project.

A security guard slipped a trespassing complaint from the site’s developer, which is being pressed by county officials to widen a road to its new subdivision, into a yellow ribbon tied around the tree’s base. The oak, named “Old Glory,” by a swarm of protestors who have been holding a vigil at the site since November, is located near Santa Clarita, Calif.

The construction crew – arriving with the others around 1:30 a.m. — quickly erected a chain-link fence and concrete barriers around the tree. Police removed a tent, tables, sleeping platform and pamphlets from the area surrounding the tree. They also towed and impounded John Quigley’s Volvo.

“It was like a military invasion,” Quigley, 42, told the Los Angeles Times. “I was concerned they were going to drag me out and cut the tree down.”

To make sure that didn’t happen, Quigley secured himself to the tree with a pipe and lock. He was located about 100 feet high in the branches of the oak.

Bill Rattazzi, president of John Laing Homes, the site’s developer, said the company considered alternate routes for the road, but county officials wouldn’t approve them. The “circus-like” atmosphere at the tree prompted Thursday’s action, he told the Times.

“We’d rather have the courts solve this,” Rattazzi said.

Quigley said he has enough food and water for a week.

To read our previous article on this subject, click the link in the column to the right.