May 24, 2006

Singer Joan Baez takes up residence in L.A. tree

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Folk singer Joan Baez and a woman
who once spent two years perched atop a giant California
redwood took up residence on Wednesday in a tree in a Los
Angeles community garden that is threatened with demolition.

Baez, who gave voice to Vietnam War protesters, and Julia
"Butterfly" Hill, whose anti-logging protest in the late 1990s
drew widespread attention, said they would occupy the tree in

The 14-acre (5.7-hectare) garden in the middle of gritty
south Los Angeles is tended by some 350 farmers, many of them
immigrants, who have been growing fruits and vegetables there
since 1992.

The farmers are threatened with eviction after the Trust
for Public Land failed in its efforts to buy the site from the
owner, who plans to build a warehouse there.

A small group has gathered on the site in a bid to prevent
the garden from being wiped out.

Hill ended her Northern California "tree sit" protest in
December 1999 after Pacific Lumber Co. agreed to preserve the
tree she dubbed Luna and a 200-foot (61-meter) buffer zone
around the tree in exchange for a $50,000 payment from Hill and
her supporters intended to save the tree in perpetuity.

The 65-year-old Baez has a long history of political
activism. Last year she joined anti-war protesters near U.S.
President George W. Bush's ranch to meet with military families
who want troops pulled out of Iraq.