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The Destruction of 11 Acres of Pristine Woodland
Causes Community Outrage
By Terry Miller
In the wake of last week’s devastating obliteration of over 200 trees and one of Arcadia’s last natural ecosystems, there are opinions and fingers pointing in every direction as to who is to blame for such a wretched and sadly unnessessary end result. Why it happened in the first place is perhaps best known only to County Flood Control who refused to listen to the will of the people who live in Arcadia.
One of the founding members of a group of deeply concerned citizens who valiently attempted to save the trees and educate the county, Cam Stone, attended countless community meetings, supervisors’ meetings, and endured relentless double-talk from the county. Cam stone is eloquent and kept noting that there were alternatives to county plans. He along with Glen Owens, a planning commissioner in Monrovia , (who spent his own money to prove alternatives were there), pleaded with officials at Flood Control…their words and letters fell on deaf ears despite putting considerable pressure on Antonovich’s office as well as county public works.
As Owens pointed out to Beacon Media earlier in the week, Flood Control is autocratic. This, needless to say, makes it exceedingly difficult to accomplish negotiations.
Cam stone, Glen Owens and Christle Balvin plus several other highly concerned citizens have been essentially on the war path with the County Flood Control over an issue that could have and should been resolved without destroying trees it seems to me and numerous more enlightened than myself.
The passion and the persistence of these marvelous people needs to be applauded and recognized.
I don’t mean with plaques or recognitions like “citizen of the year “or “man of the year” but with more support – lots of it. There should have been hundreds of protesters at the gate that morning. Where were we all? The police outnumbered protesters 20 – 1.
During my years in High School and college, protest and civil disobedience is what helped stopped the Vietnam War and opened minds to alternatives. Protest brought about the Civil Rights laws and major changes that still are in their infancy. Protesting injustice gave women the right to vote. Hundreds of us took to the streets and no matter where or when, we could not be moved by police or National Guard.
Perhaps we have become too complacent on public protest. Perhaps we’re too busy reading our emails and downloading stuff when we should get out from behind the computer/smart phone and take matters into the streets. Remember the film NETWORK….. We should all be mad as hell, and not take it anymore!
When I arrived at the gates at 7am there was a handful of people (perhaps 5) peacefully protesting. Others wanted to join later but the police placed crime scene tape around the perimeter and would allow anyone else in. Some one tried to give the protesters on the inside of the yellow tape some more signs but officers refused to allow this.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s dept refused to let the media in to witness the destruction that had started around 7 AM, Wednesday Jan 12, 2011. In fact there were several verbal altercations between some members of the media and deputies as to the legality of said restriction. In fact, they extended the area in which we (media) were not allowed and closed off the roads surrounding the entrance to the site.
A colleague of mine, Nick Ut, a photographer who is celebrating 45 years with AP won a Pulitzer Prize for his image of a naked young girl running screaming after a napalm attack in Vietnam, was also witness to this censorship that Wednesday morning.
The end of the war and horrific atrocities in Vietnam was due in no small part to Nick Ut’s stunning, powerful and sensitive black and white photography of Phan Th? Kim Phúc, who was photographed running terrified toward the camera to flee a South Vietnamese napalm attack on the Tr?ng Bàng village during in Vietnam. That image and many other Ut made along with those of his colleague, Eddie Adams really shaped the turning point of public opinion and why the war ended. Adams died recently but was quoted a while back in the LA Times saying…” You and me Nicky, we helped stop the War.”
The powerful world of images is incontestable. Perhaps this is why the police kept the media out of the 11 acres that morning. Perhaps they knew that Nicky was there and that trees being destroyed by people in Public Works Flood Control wouldn’t exacly be the best in public relations for the County of Los Angeles.
While attempting to get images, we could hear the massive machinery at work and were constantly getting updates from John Quigley who manged to get in one of the trees the previous evening along with three other brave and hearty souls… He sent video and still images to media while the trees were taken down but still the LASD refused to let any media in to witness.
There was an initial claim that it was a “crime scene” by one or two deputies, which of course was NOT the case, unless you consider what the Flood Control did to those trees a crime – which, of course, many do including anyone who witnessed the scene’s aftermath. It looked like a war zone on Thursday when Public Works finally allowed some media to photograph the site.
On Tuesday Evening Jan 12, 4 people decided that the only way they were going to prevent an ecological disaster was by climbing into those very majestic and old trees whose life was in imminent jeopardy. Veteran “tree sitter” John Quigley; a newcomer to the art, Julia Posin, plus Andrea Bowers and Travis Jochimsen did exactly that under the cover of darkness and with the help of a few strong friends.
The security guards who started patrolling the site a few days earlier apparently were unaware of the four entering the property. More money well spent by the county!
Since the trees have now been executed and reduced to pulp, several in the media and some bloggers have come up with diverse and varied opinions about this and the other seriously controversial issues (i.e. the Coyote trappings that have finally stopped, or will in a few days) Arcadia faced in recent weeks. Just do a search, I’m sure you’ll find someone you agree with and lots you disagree with.
Special Thanks to Cam Stone, Glen Owens and Christle Balvin and all the rest of the people involved in trying so desperately to save the trees from the County’s axes of evil!
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