UPDATE | City says teen protester will soon be considered as trespasser

Chiara D
Chiara D'Angelo, a 2013 Bainbridge High School graduate, sits 70 feet up in one of the 800 trees planned to be cut down for a new shopping center on High School Road.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

The teen who has set up camp 70 feet up in an evergreen at the site of the soon-to-be-built High School Road shopping center may be removed this afternoon, city officials said Tuesday.

Chiara D'Angelo, a 19-year-old college student and Bainbridge High School graduate, climbed the Douglas fir early Monday morning in protest of the planned development and the approximate 800 trees to be cut.

Representatives with Visconsi, the Ohio-based developer behind the project, have notified city officials that D'Angelo would be considered trespassing at 4 p.m. Tuesday, city spokeswoman Kellie Stickney said.

At that time, the Bainbridge Island Police Department is authorized to remove D'Angelo and arrest her for trespassing.

"We would really prefer not to, and are hopeful that Chiara will choose to come down on her own to express her beliefs within the limits of the law," Stickney said.

In the meantime, Stickney added, Bainbridge police are devising a plan of action if D'Angelo decides not to come down.

The deadline is a 24-hour extension.

Visconsi representatives previously informed the city D’Angelo would be considered trespassing at 4 p.m. Monday, but decided to wait one more day for her to come down on her own.

When asked if she would meet the new timeline, D’Angelo said for legal reasons, she could not answer how much longer she plans to stay in the tree.

She did say, though, that despite being on a platform 70 feet off the ground, she slept well last night.

“It was really special,” D’Angelo said. “I finally feel rested.”

Community supporters of D’Angelo’s tree sit have also used a pulley system to haul food and other items to get D’Angelo through the sit-in.

“I packed some food, and actually haven’t touched it,” D’Angelo said.

“Usually your diet is so poor when you’re doing campaign work, but I have more food than I came up with.”

In anticipation of Visconsi’s prior deadline, roughly 50 supporters showed up Monday to encourage D’Angelo. They later continued the protest at the corner of High School Road and Highway 305.

The gathering and tree sit attracted camera crews from Seattle television stations KOMO, KIRO and King5. Television reporters also broadcast live from the protest site for the 11 p.m. Monday news programs.

Ron Peltier of Islanders for Responsible Development, the activist group that appealed the environmental review for the Visconsi project earlier this year, said that he hopes D’Angelo's tree sit will inspire more residents to become involved in city affairs.

“There are people that care but then leave it to someone else to make change,” Peltier said. “I’d like to see citizens become engaged as citizens.”

Later, Peltier added that sometimes it takes a personality like D’Angelo’s to prompt community change.

“You need a young headstrong, idealistic woman to make it happen,” Peltier told supporters who had gathered at the bottom of D’Angelo's tree Monday afternoon.

From her post among the branches, D’Angelo told the crowd below how she found the courage to make her stand for the trees.

“You stop thinking about expectations as your reality and you make that your paradigm,” D’Angelo said.

A spokesman for the Bainbridge Island Fire Department said earlier Tuesday that no BIFD equipment will be used in D'Angelo's removal.


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