I just spoke with state Sen. Noreen Evans, who represents the Willits area, about the forcible eviction of five tree-sitters -- and by forcible, I mean firing projectiles (first reported as rubber bullets, later as bean bags) at a protester holding onto tree limbs 70 feet in the air. She's not happy.
The Willits Weekly has been reporting in depth on this whole mess, and quotes an Evan statement:
I am shocked and dismayed at what seems to be an excessive use of force on unarmed protestors. Thus far, I feel Caltrans and CHP have been slow to respond to my questions and quick to act regarding the Bypass Project.
By the time we talked, she'd calmed down a bit and wasn't ready to second-guess the CHP tactics. "I'm not in law-enforcement," she said. "It could have been much worse."
But she did say she was still furious about the timing of the raid. "The mayor of Willits has been trying to get information out of Caltrans, and has been having trouble, so I asked for a meeting. I wanted to know, is there some way they could handle this protest peacefully?
"I learned about the events half an hour before the Caltrans director was supposed to be in my office. I was not happy."
Evans told me that Caltrans blamed the CHP -- but the CHP wasn't having it. "I called the commissioner of the CHP, who told me the order was given by Caltrans," she said.
So the bulldozing continues -- but this isn't going away.