Woman Refuses to Leave Tree to Protest Mall Project
(BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash.) -- A 19-year-old college student is refusing to leave her "tree house" that is 70 feet up in the air -- not for the bird’s-eye view, but to protest against a development project in Washington state that is set to cut down 830 trees.
Chiara D’Angelou, of Bainbridge Island, said she hasn't come down from the tree since 4 a.m. on Monday. She said she secured a wooden board to branches, placed a mattress on top of it, and brought food, water, books, a guitar, a cellphone and even solar charger with her.
“I have been practicing climbing trees,” D’Angelou told ABC News Tuesday. “I have a security belt tied on my waist just in case I fell.”
“My grandparents live in the area. I grew up here,” D’Angelou said.
In addition to felling hundreds of trees, the 62,000-square-foot mall approved by the city of Bainbridge Island would cripple local businesses, D’Angelou said.
“I’m up here because I want to give people some extra time to rally and raise their voices,” said D’Angelou, a junior at Western Washington University, noting she has been visited by at least 300 people who support her cause.
She uses a basket to transport food from visitors, she said.
“I’ve had kale chips, peaches, figs, chia tea, crab, salmon, granola, lots of amazing stuff sent to me,” said D’Angelou, noting she has no plan to come down any time soon.
“I hope the city will rethink the plan,” she said. "As long as I can, I’ll stay up here. I want to create space for a community voice.”
"The developer of this project, Visconsi, said that they would authorize the police department to arrest her for trespassing after 4 p.m. today,” Kellie Stickney, community engagement specialist at the Bainbridge Island City Council, told ABC News Tuesday.
“The city would really prefer not to arrest her, and just have her come down herself,” Stickney said. “We hope that the situation just resolves itself.”
“The project is in a commercially zoned area and the hearing examiner found that the project was in line with the uses of the area,” Stickney said. “At this point, the only party that can stop the project is the developer.”
Visconsi, the Ohio-based developer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by ABC News.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio