Barking up the improper tree: Protester cuffed after trying to halt East Facet seawall venture by climbing tree

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The NYPD on Monday urged a tree-climbing protester at the site of a seawall construction project on the East Side to build a similar tree and “go.”

Work on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) was abruptly halted on Monday when an angry local climbed a tree to avoid being uprooted.

Several parkgoers calling themselves tree defenders cheered on April 25 for a young woman who scaled a chain link fence surrounding a development area in East River Park before falling onto the base of a tree near Corlears Hook Park between Cherry Street and Grand Street climbed.

Chainsaw-wielding workers dropped onto a nearby woodpile while several NYPD officers and a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer tried to calm the protester. Because the woman refused to be picked up from her woody perch, workers were directed to turn their attention to several other trees in the area.

As time went on, more and more anti-ESCR activists came to give encouragement to the woman who had put her body in the way of the spinning saw. The group rattled the fence and sang, demanding that the trees remain unharmed.

The protester refused to step down, forcing workers to look on.Photo by Dean Moses

Trees are being removed to install a flood wall designed to protect the Lower East Side from extensive damage from storms like Superstorm Sandy. While some say they welcome the work the DDC has promised will include new park facilities, others have condemned tree removal, calling it ecocide.

A deranged tree protector watching from afar let out a scream as a tree was pierced with a chainsaw and fell to the ground. The women began to cry as two others gave them a comforting hug.

Supporters rattled the fence as they watched the act of defiance. Photo by Dean Moses Three women hugged after a tree was felled. Photo by Dean Moses

Tree branches were dragged to a wood chipper the whole time while the protester stayed on her perch under the NYPD’s watchful eye.

“Your heart sinks every time you see it,” said George H., who observed both the tree removal and the protester’s standoff. “We are here to bear witness, and we cannot just leave these trees to their own deaths. You know, someone has to be here to support them.”

After several hours, the protester willingly descended from the bark after the workers left. She was handcuffed and taken away. However, according to viewers, they considered it a victory as the tree was left standing.

After several hours, the protester was tied up and arrested. Photo by Dean Moses