Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Security cameras at Arcata’s Intermodal Transit Facility (ITF) are credited with identification leading to the arrest of the person suspected of attacking Arcata’s street trees.
Last Thursday, Arcata Police arrested Kenyatta Jones, 42, of Arcata on a charge of felony vandalism. Jones, who is familiar to officers in Arcata, was identified as the suspected tree killer when officers recognized him on the ITF video, where he was allegedly breaking off the top of a tree.
According to APD, Jones admitted to breaking the tops off of four cherry trees on the Arcata Plaza, tearing the limbs off trees on the 800 block of Ninth Street and damaging trees at the transit facility.
“I Mirandized him and said I wanted to talk about the trees,” said APD Officer Luke Scown, who made the arrest. He said Jones immediately admitted the tree attacks, saying, “I broke ’em when I got angry, and tore the limbs off.”
“He admitted to each one of them,” Scown said. The downtown bike officer said this surprised him. “Usually it’s some drunk person at 2 a.m. leaving the bars,” he said.
A total of 16 trees were damaged. Ten trees had limbs damaged, with city staff pruning them in hopes of recovery. Staff time for the tree work will come to about $525; additional costs for fuel and equipment amount to $400 and five trees need to be replaced at a cost of $1,375, bringing the total economic impact for the vandalism at over $2,300.
Jones frequently hangs out on the Plaza and ITF, where he is known as “Yeti.” He often carries a suitcase, though lately he’s been toting a milk crate around. He’s sometimes cited for low-level offenses like smoking and open containers, but hasn’t actually been arrested for years.
Unlike many yelling-Americans who practice their avocation downtown, Jones is “generally a pretty quiet guy,” Scown said. APD Sgt. Keith Altizer confirmed that Jones is generally tranquil. “This is the first time we’ve seen anything like this happen,” he said.
It’s not the first time someone has gone on a tree-attacking tear in Arcata, though. Several newly planted Street trees along Samoa Boulevard were similarly attacked on their installation some years ago.
A few months back, someone “girdled,” that is, removed several inches of the bark layer, a couple of redwood trees in Shay Park, according to Environmental Services Director Mark Andre.
The well-established trees had been planted during the park’s creation 20 years ago. Bark removal kills the tree by halting circulation and nutrient flow.