Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tree-sitter, accused of threatening police officer, appears in court

April 18, 2007

-- Zachary Runningwolf Brown, a leader of the Berkeley tree-sitters protesting development plans next to Memorial Stadium, appeared in court today with his new lawyer, famed criminal defense attorney Tony Serra.

Brown, 44, faces a felony charge of resisting a police officer and a misdemeanor charge of making terrorist threats. The charges stem from a Feb. 23 incident at the oak grove next to the stadium when he allegedly threatened to shoot a UC police officer.

Serra, whose previous clients include the Hells Angels and Huey Newton, is representing Brown pro bono. They spoke to reporters on the sidewalk today before their appearance in Alameda County Superior Court, where Serra is seeking to have the charges dropped. Another pre-trial conference was scheduled for May 30.

Brown and about a half-dozen other protesters climbed into oak and redwood trees Dec. 2 to protest a UC plan to remove part of the grove to make way for an athletic training center.

Today's court appearance was a pretrial conference with prosecutors.

Brown, who is out on bail, faces a maximum of three years in state prison if convicted.

The fate of the oak grove hinges on the outcome of three lawsuits filed to stop the UC athletic facility that would replace the trees. The trial will be in late summer or early fall.

E-mail Carolyn Jones at

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