A week later, on January 11th, council contractors put up several layers of fencing around the tree, and 24 hour private security guards were posted, making it much harder to get supplies to Gabriel, the tree-sitter. It was occasionally possible to persuade security to allow items to be passed on but this depended on the individual guards and their mood.
The next day, at a demo, police were overheard threatening to arrest anyone trying to throw food or water up into the tree, either for 'littering' or 'aggrevated trespass', depending on who you asked.
Supporter reports being threatened with arrest:
From the horses mouth; an interview with the cops involved:
[An encouraging aside: Foolishly, while the demo was in progress the fencing contractors attempted to fence off not just the tree but the entire square, and the demo escalated into mass action as dozens of passerbys spontaneously joined protesters to block the fencing work. Not only was the fencing stopped but we've since learned that the fencing company in question refused to have anything more to do with the work, forcing the council to find another firm to finish the job of securing the site post-eviction!]
True to their word, later that night police arrested a sympathiser for attempting to throw water up to Gabriel. He was held for several hours on 'suspicion of littering', and finally released without charge:
There were also rumours that a young girl was arrested earlier in the evening in similar circumstances, but the details aren't confirmed.
A few days later, when Gabriel 'voluntarily' came down from the tree, he was said to have been suffering from a lack of food and water:
and needed medical attention:
All of which might well be *legally* justified by the glib line from the cops that he was free to come down at any time, but certainly demonstrates the sick lengths to which the authorities will go when their business-friendly plans are threatened.
Needless to say, this battle may be over, but the wider campaign against the expansion of the Westgate shopping centre - which involves the felling of many many more trees - continues!