BERKELEY — It's over.

The four tree-sitters who remained in a single redwood near Memorial Stadium, even after the grove they were trying to save was razed last week, climbed down Tuesday from the 80-foot tree. Their descent ended a 21-month standoff at UC Berkeley and came after a tense morning and afternoon as university officials erected metal scaffolding around the tree and worked their way up to the sitters.

As more than 300 people on the ground watched, beat drums, chanted, yelled, cried, cheered and prayed, one by one, the four men — known as Huck, Shem, Mando and Ernesto to their supporters — were handcuffed and escorted down several flights of stairs and arrested. Their heads were bowed and at least a couple appeared weak as they walked down the stairs. They did not speak to the crowd.

The move from the tree ended the long-time occupation of a campus oak grove aimed at stopping construction of a new $125 million sports training center for student athletes.

After the tree-sitters came down Tuesday, the redwood where they lived for many months was cut down. A smaller redwood that still remains in the grove is expected to be transplanted to another site on the Berkeley campus because it has a good chance for survival, said campus spokesman Dan Mogulof.

The sitters' descent also capped a day of tensions between tree-sitters and police, including UC Police Chief Victoria Harrison, who spent five hours in a metal basket hanging from a crane, talking and negotiating with the holdout tree-sitters.


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"I think they realized that our ability to physically remove them if we needed to was now possible because of the scaffolding," Harrison said later. "Up until that point, they were confident that we didn't really have that ability. I would imagine too that they didn't want to get into a physical confrontation."

Harrison was accompanied in the basket by two officers, one who videotaped the entire process and one who helped her negotiate. "I talked to them about coming down with some form of dignity and walking down," Harrison said. "Even if they were accompanied by police, they did come down with dignity."

The tree-sitters — Michael Schuck, 26, who went by "Shem"; Armando Resendez, 20, "Mando"; Ernesto Trevino, 28, "Ernesto"; and Raul Colocho, 27, "Huck" — were all arrested for trespassing and violating a months-old court order that prohibits them from being in the grove. None of them were students; their hometowns weren't available Tuesday.

Schuck also was arrested for $22,000 worth of outstanding warrants, said UC police Assistant Chief Mitch Celaya. They were all taken to Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The case will now be reviewed by the Alameda County District Attorney.

Schuck is the same man who spent three weeks in a tree in Sproul Plaza on the Cal campus starting on Feb. 25. He was protesting the university's deals with BP and Dow Chemical, the housing of 13,000 American Indian remains on campus and UC's involvement with nuclear weapons. At that time, he went by the name "Fresh."

The effort Tuesday to bring the protest to a close included at least 45 campus police officers, including the "tower team" that went up onto to the scaffolding to escort the tree-sitters down. University officials say the protest has cost them more than $1.5 million for police, private security, chain link fences, lighting, and other things.

There were also at least four crane and cherry picker operators, 10 tree removal people and two dozen scaffolding workers on site, Harrison said. Berkeley Fire Department was standing by in case of an emergency.

In the streets below, five were arrested. Philip Cornelison, 25, was arrested for failure to follow the directions of police, resisting arrest and being a pedestrian in a roadway; Chad Walker, 19, for misdemeanor battery; Eric Elliot, 19, for battery, battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest; Eric Liebler, battery on a police officer; and Matthew Marks, 24, for resisting arrest and being a pedestrian in a roadway, Celaya said. Their hometowns were not available.

University officials said they are pleased that they can now start the long delayed project, which is expected to take about 30 months. University officials had earlier said the legal delays had increased the project's cost to $140 million, but Monday they reverted to their original figure of $125 million. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear Tuesday.

"We are extremely relieved that this tree sit has ended and that two courts have given us permission to move forward with the high performance center, which is of vital importance to our 400 student-athletes," said Vice Chancellor Nathan Brostrom. "(Tuesday's) operation (by police and campus officials) was brilliant — both in its design and its execution."

No one was hurt, he said.

Tree-sitter supporters, including Erik "Ayr" Eisenberg, and Matthew Taylor, a student who has lobbied for the protesters, said the tree-sitters agreed to come down because UC Berkeley agreed to "new ways for the community to be involved in land-use decisions." Taylor said that could mean a committee or forums to give Cal input on land-use decisions.

University officials said that claim is false.

"There was no agreement," Brostrom said. "There was no commitment to this campus committee on land use. It is, of course, in our interest to avoid these long and protracted delays so we, of course, are interested in looking at new and innovative ways to work with the community moving forward."

Tree-sitters, including the four who were arrested Tuesday, and about 150 others who rotated through the grove of trees over the last 21 months, were protesting the university's plan to build a sports training center on the site. The project was challenged by three lawsuits from the city of Berkeley, the Panoramic Hill Association and the California Oak Foundation. Following a trial last fall, an Alameda County judge ruled in the university's favor and recently the protesters and their supporters have lost a series of court challenges.

The university has court clearance to proceed with the project, and officials said they will begin preliminary work at the site immediately, but significant work won't begin until after Cal's final home football game Dec. 6.

Even if the university hadn't brought an end to the tree sit Tuesday, the tree-sitters wouldn't have been able to live in the redwood for much longer.

The university has for the last few months been allowing the ground support team to send up water and one bag of food daily, but that agreement ended Monday.

Those on the ground Tuesday had mixed feelings about the protest and its end.

"I have a lot of empathy for (the tree-sitters) but this whole thing is very perverse. It's a media event, and they're playing it to the hilt. So is the university,'' said Michael Minasian, 55, of Berkeley.

Julie Stack, who lives in Orange County, and stayed around Berkeley to watch the end of the tree sit, said, "Someone's gotta stand up for the poor tree." She commended the tree-sitters for their perseverance through hunger, cold, exhaustion and pressure.

Reached by telephone while still in the tree, Colocho ("Huck") said, "We're happy to have reached an accord with the university.

"We're handing ourselves into police custody and whatever happens after that is up to them,'' he said. When a reporter asked what the first thing he was going to do upon coming out of the tree, his retort was quick. "Uh, probably go to Berkeley Jail."

Staff writer William Brand contributed to this report.