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Day of the Dead Trees

November 9, 2013

This is a guest post by a member of Communities United in Defense of Olmstead (CUIDO)  Olmstead is a 1999 Supreme Court decision affirming the civil rights of people with disabilities.  We have added links to articles about the issues about which they were demonstrating.

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CUIDO demonstration on November 2, 2013.  Photo by Luke Hauser

CUIDO demonstration on November 2, 2013. Photo by Luke Hauser

Eighteen activists –including a blind woman, a deaf man, numerous wheelchair riders, people with invisible disabilities, and nondisabled allies–paraded single file through the Farmers Market and downtown Berkeley, California on Saturday, November 2, 2013.  The action was called by CUIDO, a local disability action organization.

The protesters carried signs —“DEAF SAY: READ OUR HANDS! NO CLEAR CUTS, NO PESTICIDES, DEFEND EAST BAY FORESTS” and “DEATH BY 1,000,000 CUTS!!”— as they passed out hundreds of leaflets warning of the impending destruction. Protesters also carried, attached to their wheelchairs, enlarged photographs of graceful tall trees that are targeted for elimination, including a photo of a bald eagle parent and chick, nesting in a “non-native” eucalyptus tree.

Among the activists were individuals with chemical injury whose disabilities were caused by pesticide exposure. Their leaflet warned readers of the dangers posed by the two highly toxic pesticides which UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Parks District, and the City of Oakland intend to apply for up to 10 years.

Their action took place on All Souls Day, El Dia de los Muertos. Protesters identified with the souls of the trees and forest life endangered by this plan.  Stephanie Miyashiro’s wheelchair bore a photo of large trees. A paper chain connected her heart with the trees. Her sign proclaimed: “Our lives are inextricably linked.”

The activists’ flyer also focused on the massive amount of carbon which will be released into the atmosphere if this plan is allowed to go forward, contributing to global warming. Deforestation is one of the principle causes of climate change, which already threatens the planet.

Additionally, they implore Oakland residents to vote NO on the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District special tax. Mail-in ballots are due November 13, 2013.

Two CUIDO activists will discuss the issue in greater detail at 2:30 pm Friday, November 15, 2013, on “Pushing Limits,” a radio program on KPFA (94.1 FM) which addresses issues relevant to the disability community.  Update:  Marg Hall and Jean Stewart did a terrific job with this interview which is available HERE

More protests are planned. Community members who would like to join in future CUIDO actions are encouraged to contact the group at: cuidoaction@gmail.com.

For more photos of this protest, please go to: http://reclaimingquarterly.org/web/berktrees13/

CUIDO, Communities United in Defense of Olmstead, is a grassroots rights organization of people with disabilities, including chemical injuries caused by pesticides. Olmstead is a 1999 Supreme Court decision affirming the civil rights of people with disabilities.

This is the flyer that CUIDO distributed at their demonstration:

Defend East Bay Forests - colorDAY OF THE DEAD TREES

Trees are sacred and beloved friends; ancient living trees link us to our ancestors.

A plan is afoot to cut down hundreds of thousands of tall trees on over 2000 acres of forest, from Richmond to Castro Valley. A great many have already been destroyed. In observing Day of the Dead, we mourn their loss, celebrate their spirits, and treasure—and pledge to protect—those that remain.

Some of our most popular parks will have almost no trees left. In place of tall trees we will see vast acres of woodchips, as there are no plans for replanting. Similar projects are proposed for other Bay Area locations, such as Sutro Forest (SF).
The pretext is fire hazard mitigation, but the result will be a dry and barren landscape which will actually increase fire danger. A complex, delicate ecosystem will be destroyed, and massive amounts of carbon will be released, contributing to global warming. Deforestation is one of the principle causes of climate change, which already threatens the planet.

There are alternative approaches to fire hazard mitigation, but project sponsors (UC Berkeley, East Bay Regional Parks District, and the City of Oakland) have dismissed safer and less destructive alternatives. Instead, they propose clear-cutting and long-term, extensive use of toxic herbicides, which they intend to apply for up to 10 years. One of these pesticides has been shown to cause acute skin, eye, & respiratory illnesses; the other has been linked to blood, kidney, liver, & nervous system toxicity. One of the targeted tree species is listed as Endangered. The funding for this project is all public money, including a Wildfire Prevention Assessment District special tax on Oakland residents. (mail-in ballot due Nov. 13-VOTE NO!) IS THIS HOW YOU WANT YOUR TAX DOLLARS SPENT?

You can join the fight to stop this madness.
For action ideas and information, including links to the EPA’s critical comments:
http://www.milliontrees.me/2013/05/09/ (link to EPA’s comments is HERE)
http://www.SutroForest.com
http://www.HillsConservationNetwork.org
http://www.EastBayPesticideAlert.org

Distributed by: CUIDO (Communities United in Defense of Olmstead)
Contact: cuidoaction@gmail.com ; http://www.cuido.org
CUIDO is a grassroots rights organization of people with disabilities, including chemical injuries caused by pesticides.

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