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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Regional
Review / DEVELOPMENTS IN ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, SAN BERNARDINO
AND VENTURA COUNTIES

Charges Dropped in Ojai Tree Protest

May 20, 2000

OJAI — Two months ago, local resident John Christianson felt tired and scared as he stared down the trunk of a large aging oak while deputies broke up a protest in Libbey Park.

As he left court Friday, Christianson said he felt "relieved."

"I was not looking forward to going to jail or being on probation," the 51-year-old activist said, standing in the courthouse hallway after prosecutors dropped criminal charges against him.

Christianson was arrested March 15 after he climbed up a 150-year-old oak tree that was facing a chain saw and refused to come down.

His protest was part of a larger demonstration against the city's plan to chop down three old oaks that city arborists had determined were dying and in danger of falling onto a children's playground.

After 15 hours tied to an upper branch, Christianson surrendered to deputies. He was later charged with resisting arrest and trespassing.

Two of the three trees were felled. The city plans to spend $27,000 to move the playground from under the canopy of the third tree.

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