Confrontation escalated this morning, April 2, 2013, between those protesting the Caltrans Willits Bypass Project and California Highway Patrol Officers, the agency charged with safety and enforcement at the project site. Using CHP SWAT Officers trained in climbing techniques, the tree-sitter known as Warbler, who was also engaged in a hunger strike, was removed from high in the tree that she has occupied for over two months. Additional tree-sitters were extracted by the CHP team later in the day.
In response to today's removal of Willit's Bypass Project protestors, by the California Highway Patrol, California Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) issued a statement which can be read below.
Use the player below to hear details on this story in a piece aired on the KMUD Local News on Tues., April, 2, 2013 by KMUD News Director, Terri Klemetson.
For more information, photos and video see the Save Little Lake Valley web site: http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org
California State Senator Evans' Statement, dated April 2, 2013:
CHP was deployed to remove the protestors of the Willits Bypass Project just hours before I was set to meet with the director of Caltrans to have my questions answered. According to some reports, protestors in trees were extracted by CHP using "rubber bullets", and that CHP officers significantly outnumbered protestors.
I am shocked and dismayed at what seems to be an excessive use of force on unarmed protestors.
Thus far, I feel Caltrans and CHP have been slow to respond to my questions and quick to act regarding the Bypass Project.
It also was extremely disturbing to learn that the press was excluded from observing the removal of the protestors.
I had asked to be kept informed on a daily basis prior to any extraordinary action on this project as I represent the 1.3 million Californians living in the Second Senate District where this project is taking place. Regretfully that did not happen today.
I met today with Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty to express my dismay at today's events. I have additionally requested an immediate meeting with CHP Commissioner Joseph Farrow.
I urge everyone to remain calm and for protestors to remain peaceful in their opposition.
Photo below shows Warbler in her perch in March-Photo from Save Little Lake Valley Web Site.
Photo below provided by Jennifer Poole shows the remains of the Warbler tree-sit.