Cornell University Police began issuing citations for trespassing this morning (July 15) to protesters in the Redbud Woods area who want to prevent the construction of a 176-space parking lot on the site, adjacent to the West Campus student residences. One protester was arrested for disorderly conduct.
The protesters included about five people up in trees and five others who had manacled themselves to pipes buried in the ground, according to Cornell University Police.
Vice President for Administration Stephen Golding read an order at 8:15 a.m. for all occupiers of the site to vacate within 10 minutes or face criminal prosecution for trespassing. The warning was issued twice more before police began to issue citations. Workers finished erecting a 6-foot-high chain-link fence around the area, which Golding said was a restricted construction site and open only to authorized personnel. A police booth was erected at the entrance to the site to issue citations to protesters seeking access.
By evening, 43 citations had been issued in generally cordial exchanges between police and protesters. Among those cited were several Cornell faculty members and former Ithaca Mayor Ben Nichols.
Meanwhile, Cornell faculty members met with President Hunter Rawlings and Provost Biddy Martin to discuss concerns over the protest, the image it presents of the university and the decision-making process regarding the parking lot project in the face of ongoing opposition.
Rawlings, while noting that the protesters' concern for the protection of green space is genuine, "and I respect them for their commitment to a very important cause," has said the parking lot project must go forward.
At 1:40 p.m. Friday, a two-hour truce was called to allow protesters to talk among themselves and decide their next course of action.
"We put a hold on any citation issuing to allow the students to have an opportunity to meet all together, to come down out of their trees and out of their lockboxes," said university police Lt. Kathy R. Zoner.
"They asked for a truce so they could have a meeting, with the understanding that they could go back to their positions without intervention," said horticulture professor Laurie Drinkwater.
The protesters consist of students, faculty and other Ithacans, including Catholic Workers and members of the Cornell chapter of the Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations. A group calling itself the Redbud Woods Working Group has been active for more than three years and typically has about 50 active participants on the site on a daily basis, according to Danny Pearlstein '05, a group member.