View Full Version : Berkeley facilitates protests outside recruiting center

02-02-08, 09:01 PM
Berkeley facilitates protests outside recruiting center
The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Feb 2, 2008 7:17:36 EST

BERKELEY, Calif. — Local officials in this liberal city say it’s time for the Marines to move out. The City Council voted 8-1 Tuesday to tell the Marines their downtown recruiting station is not welcome and “if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests.”

The council also voted to explore enforcing a city anti-discrimination law, focusing on the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

In a separate item, the council voted, also 8-1, to give protest group Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week.

Marine Capt. Richard Lund of the recruiting office declined comment on the council action.

The recruiting office opened in Berkeley about a year ago, operating quietly until about four months ago, when Code Pink began regular sidewalk protests.

“I believe in the Code Pink cause. The Marines don’t belong here, they shouldn’t have come here, and they should leave,” said Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates.

Code Pink is circulating petitions to get a measure on the ballot in November making it more difficult to open military recruiting offices in Berkeley if they are near homes, parks, schools, churches, libraries or health clinics.

Some employees and business owners aren’t happy with the weekly protests.

“My husband’s business is right upstairs, and this [protesting] is bordering on harassment,” Dori Schmidt told the council. “I hope this stops.”


02-03-08, 07:49 AM
Article published - Feb 3, 2008
BERKELEY Marines plan to stay put

While anti-war protesters chained themselves outside a Marines recruiting center in Berkeley, a spokesman for the Corps said the Marines do not plan to abandon the office even though the City Council has officially rolled up the welcome mat.

The City Council voted Tuesday to tell the Marines that if its recruiters choose to stay in their rented downtown space "they do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests."

Gunnery Sgt. Pauline Franklin said Friday that while the Corps respects city officials' right to free speech, the Marines would not be leaving.

Conservative bloggers and Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, lashed out at Berkeley following Tuesday's resolution.

DeMint said he would draft legislation to strip the city of federal money, including funds destined for UC Berkeley, for school lunches in the Berkeley Unified School District and public safety.

Berkeley police arrested three of the protesters who chained themselves together and blocked people trying to enter the recruiting station. They were cited for misdemeanors and released.


02-03-08, 08:22 AM
Snub of Marines draws criticism <br />
Berkeley mayor softens criticism, offers lease help <br />
By Doug Oakley, STAFF WRITER <br />
Article Created: 02/02/2008 02:37:59 AM PST <br />
<br />
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates offered...

02-03-08, 09:24 AM
Is there a way not to get ****ed off about this--UPDATE!
Posted By Deebow


UPDATE 17:51 PST: This keeps getting stranger, however, it is unlikely to let up. My vote is for a Marine Security detachment from FAST Company should be sent to aid them. (h/t Weasel Zippers)

As the right-wing blogosphere railed and a U.S. senator vowed financial retaliation against the Berkeley City Council for its effort to boot the Marine Corps out of town, three anti-war protesters ratcheted up pressure from the left by chaining themselves Friday to the front door of the downtown Marine recruiting office.

Note to Berkeley City Council and Code Pink: Decisions have consequences...

UPDATE: U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., says the City of Berkeley, Calif., no longer deserves federal money.

DeMint was angered after learning that the Berkeley City Council voted this week to tell the U.S. Marine Corps to remove its recruiting station from the city's downtown.

"This is a slap in the face to all brave service men and women and their families," DeMint said in a prepared statement. "The First Amendment gives the City of Berkeley the right to be idiotic, but from now on they should do it with their own money."

"If the city can’t show respect for the Marines that have fought, bled and died for their freedom, Berkeley should not be receiving special taxpayer-funded handouts," he added.

DeMint said he will draft legislation to rescind any earmarks dedicated for the City of Berkeley in the recently passed appropriations bill — which his office tallied to value about $2.1 million. He said that any money taken back would be transferred to the Marines.

Among the earmarks identified are:

— $975,000 for the University of California at Berkeley, for the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, which may include establishing an endowment, and for cataloguing the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui.

— $750,000 for the Berkeley/Albana ferry service.

— $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation, for a school lunch initiative to integrate lessons about wellness, sustainability and nutrition into the academic curriculum.

— $94,000 for a Berkeley public safety interoperability program.

— $87,000 for the Berkeley Unified School District, nutrition education program.

I think the best comment, well, I won't spoil it...

Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway scoffed at the news,

I wish the Senator luck. I hope he wins his battle. Hitting them in the pocket book for over a cool million smackers sounds like a good start.

And the battle continues....


02-03-08, 09:33 AM
The Marines vs Berkeley: The Peace and Justice Commission behind the actions - How bad is it?



02-05-08, 08:13 AM
In Berkeley, push to rescind letter to Marines

Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

(02-04) 18:52 PST Berkeley -- A week after blasting the Marines as "unwelcome intruders" in Berkeley, two City Council members want the city to back off the declaration that ignited the wrath of the nation's right wing and inspired a Republican senator to try to sever Berkeley's federal funding.

Council members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli on Monday proposed that Berkeley rescind its letter to the U.S. Marine Corps that stated that the downtown Berkeley recruiting center "is not welcome in our city," and publicly declare that Berkeley is against the war but supports the troops.

The City Council will vote on Olds' and Capitelli's two proposals at its meeting next Tuesday.

"I think we shouldn't be seen across the country as hating the Marines," said Olds, who voted against last week's proposals. "If you make a mistake, like we did, you should admit it and correct it and move on."

The brouhaha started last week when the council passed two items condemning the Marine recruiting center on Shattuck Square, which opened about a year ago. The first called on the city clerk to send a letter to the Marines telling them they're unwelcome, and the second item granted Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office every Wednesday afternoon and allowed the group to operate a loudspeaker.

After the items passed, the council was besieged with criticism from right-wing groups and military supporters. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed that the federal government cut off funds for Berkeley, including lunch programs, ferry service and UC Berkeley.

Olds said she heard from hundreds of people angered by the city's action, including many in her Berkeley hills district.

"People are so mad about this. They have relatives in the service, and now they think they're not welcome in Berkeley," she said. "My twin brother was a Marine in World War II. He'd be turning in his grave if he saw this."

The council appears split on the idea of backing down. Some council members said the original proposals inadvertently insulted veterans and those currently serving in the military. Others said Berkeley should stand by its convictions.

"People are used to Berkeley taking a stand for peace, but you have to do it intelligently," said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who voted against sending the letter calling the Marine Corps unwelcome. "You don't want to slap one group in the face and then, the next minute, slap the other group. I think we have an obligation to be thoughtful and sensitive and not be counterproductive to the cause of peace."

Councilwoman Dona Spring said the council should not be cowed by the volume of hate mail and threats.

"I still oppose the Marines recruiting in Berkeley because it's one way of protesting this wasteful war," she said. "Our military policy is a shambles. But we're not in opposition to the Marines; we oppose the policy that directs the Marines."

Meanwhile, the Code Pink protesters said they were disappointed that Berkeley might rescind its letter to the Marines.

"I hope they're not acting out of intimidation," said Code Pink spokeswoman Medea Benjamin. "Berkeley is a city of peace, and a recruiting station does not fit Berkeley's values."

Mayor Tom Bates, a former Army captain, said it probably wouldn't hurt if the council clarified its position.

"It's a symbol, but there are consequences to symbols," he said. "A lot of people think we're anti-Marine, but there's a difference between the warriors and the war. This is an attempt to clarify that."

E-mail Carolyn Jones at carolynjones@sfchronicle.com.


02-05-08, 08:37 PM
Berkeley officials look to make amends
The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 5, 2008 11:37:13 EST

BERKELEY, Calif. — Two Berkeley City Council members want the city to rescind a declaration that says the Marine recruiting center is not welcome in Berkeley.

Council members Betty Olds and Lauri Capitelli have proposed backing off the anti-Marines declaration and publicly declaring that Berkeley opposes the war in Iraq but supports the troops.

The controversy erupted last week after the City Council passed an item condemning the Marines’ downtown recruiting center. The declaration angered right-wing groups and prompted a Republican senator to try to cut off federal funding for Berkeley.

The City Council will vote on the new proposals next week.


02-06-08, 06:32 AM
Council might retract statement on Marines
BERKELEY: Members to vote Tuesday on item calling recruiters 'intruders' that sparked national outcry
By Doug Oakley

Article Launched: 02/06/2008 03:04:10 AM PST

Two Berkeley City Council members want to retract an official statement that the U.S. Marines and their recruiting station are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" in the city after the action sparked a national uproar.

Their item will come before the City Council on Tuesday.

But Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli, who wrote the proposal, did not move to rescind three other related items the council approved this past week: calling on residents to impede the work of any military recruiting station in the city; asking the city attorney to investigate whether the Marines violate city laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation; and giving the protest group Code Pink a free weekly parking space and sound permit to protest in front of the Shattuck Avenue recruiting station.

"I would prefer they recruit somewhere else, but they have a constitutional and legal right to be here," Capitelli said Tuesday. "If they decide to be here, then there are actions (protesters) can take, and the Marines will have to decide whether that's an acceptable price to pay to be in Berkeley. That's their decision to make, but not the City Council's decision."

The council decided by a 6-3 vote last week to ask the Marines to abandon their office by a 6-3 vote last week. Council members Olds, Gordon Wozniak and Kriss Worthington voted against the item. A spokeswoman for Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said Tuesday that he would vote to rescind the statement.

The council's action has

generated outrage from across the country, and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., threatened last week to try to strip the city of federal funds.

Councilwoman Linda Maio said she will introduce an item of her own next week regarding the Marines. Maio said she welcomes "any member of the military" to be in Berkeley, but she does not support the recruiting station.

"That's an important distinction to make," Maio said.

Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who voted against all the items involving the recruiting station, said he would have to think about the new item.

"It's not clear a majority of the council will change its viewpoint on this," Wozniak said. "I think the item needs some clarification. I support what they are trying to do. We should also apologize."

Wozniak said he still doesn't like the idea of "giving a parking space to a protest group right in front of the place they are protesting, regardless of whether it's the Marines or an abortion clinic. It's intimidation and harassment."

Worthington said he had not yet seen the new item.

"I'm a strong supporter of the peace movement, but I think it's important to show support for our veterans and the people risking their lives in the military today," Worthington said.

Councilwoman Dona Spring said she is not backing down from her earlier position that the Marines should get out of town.

"I'm going to try to work to amend this resolution to make sure we're expressing our full opposition to the military policies and that we do not feel it's appropriate for any military recruiting to be done in Berkeley," Spring said. "I definitely feel the message to the Marines should be, 'You need to go,' and I'm not backing down on it."

Councilman Darrell Moore said Tuesday that he had not decided how to vote on the item by Olds and Capitelli.

Councilman Max Anderson said Friday that he had not changed his position and "absolutely" wants the Marines out of Berkeley.

Meanwhile, the pro-military group Move Forward America announced in a news release it will stage a daylong protest against the City Council on Tuesday in response to the council's actions last week.

E-mail Doug Oakley at doakley@bayareanewsgroup.com.


02-06-08, 06:37 AM
Berkeley's Marines offensive

Debra J. Saunders

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"I guess they've never heard of free speech," Berkeley City Councilwoman Dona Spring told The Chronicle as she defended the council's 8-1 vote to tell Marine recruiters that they are not welcome in Berkeley - and that if the Marines stay, they will "do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." The council also voted 6-3 to give the anti-war Code Pink organization a designated parking space directly in front of the U.S. Marine Corps' 64 Shattuck Ave. recruiting office and encouraged Code Pink to "impede" Marine recruitment.

It's pretty clear that Spring has heard of free speech, but she has no idea what it is.

It's one thing for Berkeley to pronounce U.S. troops, who put their lives on the line every day to defend America, as unwelcome. That's protected speech - that signals Berkeley residents' disdain for U.S. troops. It's also the sort of rude we're-better-than-the-rest-of-America action that invites outsiders to wonder if a city that tries to divorce itself from military recruitment deserves the benefits that the federal government bestows.

Apart from that, the Berkeley vote was the antithesis of free speech.

When government officials pass a law to impede the political expression of nonbelievers, as the Berkeley pols did on Jan. 29, they are wielding the club of government to suppress dissent. They are abusing their authority.

Code Pink does not limit its activities to protesting the war. Code Pink also blocks access to the recruiting office, members have chained themselves to the door - which constitutes an attempt to infringe on the rights of those who, despite a barrage of anti-war propaganda, nonetheless want to become Marines.

Code Pink is the anti-war equivalent of anti-abortion protesters barring women from access to abortion clinics - a crime compounded by the City Council's support of this suppression.

Oh, but it's different, supporters argue, because Berkeley is anti-war. All those high-school lectures about free speech existing to protect unpopular viewpoints evaporate when you're on the popular side. What's the point of having power, after all, if you can't use it as a club to silence those with whom you disagree?

I know many Berkeley residents oppose the war and still are embarrassed that Berzerkely once again has gone over the top. Too bad their reasonable voices are lost in the loud, obnoxious censorious lefty cacophony.

"We're not condemning the men and women who serve, we are condemning the U.S. policy that is teaching the Marines and other military people to torture, oust other countries' political leaders and do other evil things," Spring also told The Chronicle. It's typical Berkeley doublespeak: Spring isn't against the troops, she's just accusing them of evil.

When I asked Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain what he would do, if elected, about the Berkeley vote, McCain said he would use the bully pulpit to criticize Berkeley, but: "I think Berkeley is Berkeley, a unique place in America."

Sen. Jim De Mint, R-S.C., had a tougher take. "If the city can't show respect for the Marines that have fought, bled and died for their freedom, Berkeley should not be receiving special taxpayer funded handouts," De Mint wrote on his blog. De Mint has found some choice earmarks - $975,000 for the Cal Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation - that, while not city projects, made De Mint's list.

Lest you think the De Mint approach is far-fetched, consider Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's answer to a question posed by NBC's Tim Russert at a debate last month. "There's a federal statute on the books which says that, if a college or university does not provide space for military recruiters or provide a ROTC program for its students, it can lose its federal funding. Will you enforce that statute?" Russert asked.

Both Clinton and Obama answered that they would enforce the Solomon Amendment, which first passed in 1994 when Bill Clinton was president.

The idea was: With federal funding comes responsibility. Except the Berkeley City Council feels it owes the American military nothing but disrespect.

You see what free speech has become in Berkeley. It's not the free expression of competing ideas. It's free for lefties only - and for them, speech without consequences.

E-mail: dsaunders@sfchronicle.com.



02-06-08, 03:21 PM
Why Boycotting Berkeley is Important
by Nicholas Provenzo (February 6, 2008)

I watched the video of the January 29th meeting of the Berkeley City Council where resolutions were passed telling the Marines that they are "unwanted and uninvited guests" with in city limits and applauding those who work to disrupt the Marines from their mission. As I watched the video, I was struck by the brazen irrationality of a Council where pet ideologies are allowed to take center stage and where the publicity-seeking of a few malcontents is allowed to parade as the informed opinion of an entire community.

For example, according to Berkeley City Councilmember Maxwell Anderson, the Marines are little more than "the President's own gangsters" with a shameful history of "naked aggression." This man, who by his own proud admission was thrown out the Marines in the 1960s, called Marine recruiters "liars" who entice our youth to become racist killers. As judged by the fact that Berkeley City Council's passed his resolutions, the majority of the City Council shares Anderson's opinion.

If Councilmember Anderson and his fellow council-members were private citizens, one would care little what they have to say; their absurd ravings can be easily dismissed on their face. But these are not private citizens; they are members of a legislative body that by duty represents all the citizens of their community. These are individuals who have been given a special moral and legislative mandate; a mandate that they have chosen to hijack for their own benighted purposes.

Now as I point out in the online petition I drafted calling for an economic boycott of Berkeley and the suspension of all federal and state payments to the city, the City Council's wrath is grossly misdirected. Even if one chooses to oppose the current war, one must acknowledge that the Marines are not a policy-making body; their efforts are completely guided by the President and the Congress. To attack the Marines is grossly unfair; it essentially demands that the Marines ignore the very Constitution that they pledged their lives to defend.

In fact, the irony of the City Council's anti-Marine resolutions is that if one were to take their spirit completely to heart, one would have to advocate the mutiny of the Marine Corps; even if various hippies, beatniks and other gray-haired relics of the '60s that reside in Berkeley deny it, their can be no other real conclusion. The City Council has declared that at least in principle, it rejects the federal union.

My question then is just who are these individuals to think that the rest of us need them or are under any obligation to tolerate their ridiculous antics? Why should any part of our lives go to support the representatives of a city who hold that our Marines are racist murderers, and that the federal Constitution should be brazenly usurped, and that a local government has any mandate to involve itself in national affairs?

After all, the anti-Marine resolutions are the product of a Berkeley "Peace and Justice" commission; a commission that exists to deliberately involve the city in ideological issues that are utterly un-germane to the management of the city. Why should the rest of us subsidize it (or the citizens who vote to make it possible) though our tax dollars?

I thought that it was telling when it was reported that one of the recipients of federal spending in Berkeley went apoplectic when it was announced that U.S. Senator Jim DeMint would seek to cut Berkeley's federal earmarks. According to the Oakland Tribune, Ann Cooper, director of nutrition services for Berkeley Unified, DeMint's threat to pull $87,000 earmarked for her nutrition education program is "shameful."

"For somebody in the government, an elected official, to take away a program that's not only helping kids in Berkeley but is a model for kids across America, is just a travesty," Cooper said.

I say Cooper's rage is wholly misdirected. She should look no further than her city's leaders for someone to blame for the threat to her pork-money (money that I might add neither she nor anyone else in America has a right to receive). Her leaders feel no reticence in attacking the Marines, so I say it is high time those of us who love, honor and respect the Corps stand up and say that such a position comes a price. If the city of Berkeley will not have the Marines, its people should not expect any of the other accoutrements that come with living within our union.

In the broadest sense, the outcry against Berkeley City Council's actions is not about the war (or even about the Marines). It is about what life in a constitutional republic should be, and which leaders are responsible for what actions. As a local government, the Berkeley City Government has grossly overreached its legitimate mandate and it has done so in an obnoxious and offensive way.

In the name of justice, it's time to expose this for what it is: treason against the Republic itself.

A Petition in Support of the U.S. Marine Corps


02-06-08, 03:33 PM
by Michelle Malkin

Berkeley Vs. America, Again
February 06, 2008 02:00 PM EST

The troop-bashers in Berkeley are at it once more. But this time, the rest of America lashed back. Message to the Left Coast: It's not the 1960s anymore.

On Jan. 29, the Berkeley city council passed several measures targeting the lone Marine recruitment office in town. The anti-war harridans at Code Pink have been picketing the center for months. Last fall, they defaced the building by slapping a sign that read "assasination" (sic) in the military office window. Instead of rising to defend the recruiters' property rights, the city council and mayor voted to sabotage them further. They granted Code Pink special parking privileges directly in front of the Marines' workplace to facilitate their protests -- and also offered them a free sound permit for six months.

In the home of the free speech movement, the peace and love mob abused the power of government to help drive the Marines out of the city. They proceeded with zoning changes to treat recruiting centers like porn shops. They encouraged residents to continue to impede the recruiters' work. Never mind federal law making it a crime to willfully obstruct the recruiting or enlistment service of the United States. If that weren't blood-boiling enough, the Berkeleyites put the troops under further siege by voting to send a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps calling them "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

Video of the council meeting showed city officials trashing the Marines as "the president's own gangsters" and "trained killers" who are known for "death and destruction and maiming." One of the council members complained that our men and women in uniform were responsible for "horrible karma." Mayor Tom Bates offered to "help" the Marines evacuate.

But, of course, they continue to argue shamelessly that they're not against the troops. Just against President Bush's policies.

Only one council member, Gordon Wozniak, opposed the Code Pink measure -- pointing out that the council was bending the rules, intentionally setting up a confrontation between the group and the recruitment office, and "showing favoritism." He was outnumbered, 8-to-1. Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin and her minions gloated over the vote and turned up at the recruitment center to rub salt in the wound: "We are the defenders of democracy, the upholders of the Constitution. If it weren't for people like the people in Berkeley, standing up for what they believe, we'd be living under Hitler."

Her thugs defaced the recruitment center again -- this time with a banner of bloody handprints stretched across the window as recruiters tried to do their jobs.

In another decade, Berkeley would have gotten away with this intolerant, illiberal, un-American power trip. But in the age of the Internet, talk radio and YouTube, word of the siege at Berkeley spread like lightning. And citizens across the country weren't willing to look the other way. The San Francisco-based Move America Forward, led by talk show host/conservative activist Melanie Morgan, launched an online petition protesting the city council measures. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina moved to strip Berkeley of pork barrel spending worth $2 million.

The American Legion mobilized as well. National Commander Marty Conatser lambasted the votes: "The American Legion not only strongly condemns this action by the City Council but also believes that a sincere apology is in order to all Marines, past and present. What these recruiters do is essential to our national security. Without recruiters we have no military. And I don't think we can count on the flower children from Berkeley to protect this nation when it comes under attack. They have to remember that Marines are not the enemy; the terrorists are."

After feeling the heat, not just from veterans, military families and troop supporters outside of Berkeley but also from their own embarrassed citizens, the council is waving a partial white flag: Two council members will move to rescind the obnoxious letter and Code Pink privileges next week. It seems a little light bulb went off in Councilwoman Betty Olds' head: "I think we shouldn't be seen across the country as hating the Marines."

Too late. The city's "horrible karma" is on full display. Sit back and watch Berkeley be Berkeley? No more.

Michelle Malkin is author of "Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild." Her e-mail address is malkinblog@gmail.com.


02-06-08, 08:38 PM

02-07-08, 08:25 AM
Lawmakers aim to punish Berkeley over anti-Marines stance
By Doug Oakley
Bay Area News Group
Article Launched: 02/07/2008 01:50:00 AM PST

A move to strip Berkeley institutions of federal funds is going forward in Congress in retaliation for last week's city council vote telling the Marines their recruiting station is not welcome in the city.

Meanwhile, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates issued an apology Wednesday to those who serve in the military for any personal offense taken by the council declaration.

Six Republican senators and an Orange County representative are introducing companion bills called the Semper Fi Act of 2008 that takes away $2 million, including funds from the University of California-Berkeley and a local foundation that provides lunches to the Berkeley Unified School District.

The Senate bill was introduced Wednesday by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Sen. David Vitter, R-La.

Rep. John Campbell, R-Newport Beach., introduced a companion bill in the House.

The bills seek to take away $243,000 from the Chez Panisse Foundation, which provides school lunches for Berkeley public schools, and $975,000 from UC-Berkeley's Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service to create an endowment and catalog of papers of Rep. Robert Matsui, a press release from DeMint's Washington office said.

A spokesman for DeMint said Wednesday that the bills would also seek to remove other earmarks, including nearly $1 million for a new ferry

service and funds for public safety.

"Berkeley needs to learn that their actions have consequences," DeMint said in the release. "Patriotic American taxpayers won't sit quietly while Berkeley insults our brave Marines and tries to run them out of town."

Mayor Bates, a retired U.S. Army captain, said "There's really no correlation between federal funds for schools, water ferries and police communications systems and the council's actions, for God's sake. We apologize for any offense to any families of anyone who may serve in Iraq. We want them to come home and be safe at home."

Two Berkeley city council members this week said they would ask the council on Tuesday to rescind the item declaring the Marines "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."


02-07-08, 09:11 AM
Semper Fi, Berkeley
by Sen. Jim DeMint (more by this author)
Posted 02/06/2008 ET
Updated 02/06/2008 ET

When you mention "Berkeley, California" to most conservatives, they picture a leftist community of graying hippies, radicals, and protesters. Activities in the last few weeks have only reinforced this image.

The City Council of Berkeley last week voted to ask the U.S. Marine Corps to vacate their recruiting office in town, and that if they chose to stay they did so as "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

During debate of the resolution, one council member called the Marines "the President's own gangsters" and "trained killers." Another said the Marines had given the country "horrible karma" and said they had a history of "death and destruction." In a document drafted to support the resolution against the Marines, the council stated: "Military recruiters are sales people known to lie to and seduce minors and young adults into contracting themselves into military service with false promises regarding jobs, job training, education and other benefits."

After voting to insult the men and women who fight and bleed for their freedom, the City Council cast another ridiculous vote in favor of giving the radical protest group Code Pink a parking space directly in front of the Marine Corps recruiting station. They also voted to give Code Pink a sound permit for protests in front of the Marine Corps building. The City Council stated in the resolution that they "encourage all people to avoid cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station" and to "applaud" Code Pink for working to "impede, passively or actively" the work of the Marines Corps in Berkeley.

Code Pink is a fringe organization that distinguishes itself by attacking American policy, while defending dictator Hugo Chavez. The group is so disrespectful that they have no problems demonstrating in front of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center with signs reading "Maimed for a lie."

The council's resolution sparked an escalation of anti-Marine protests. Code Pink organizer Zanne Joy points to the City Council as justification for the escalation. She said that "anything legal is justified if it succeeds in persuading the Marine Corps to move its recruiting station out of Berkeley." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Code Pink protesters have been heard shouting at young men who are trying to enter the recruiting station, "You guys are just cannon fodder!" and "They want to train you to kill babies!"

It is sad to see a city like Berkeley moving so far left. Thanks to its elected leadership
the city in which, as a young naval officer, the legendary World War II Pacific Theater Commander, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz established the Naval ROTC in the fall of 1926 is now sadly a shell of its former self.

This is disappointing, but in a republican form of government, it must be up to local voters to change their leadership.

However, this particular case became the business of all Americans when they insulted our troops while coming to the federal government asking for special taxpayer-funded handouts. Over $2 million was secretly tucked away for Berkeley earmarks in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill, projects that were never voted on or debated.

I do not believe a city that has turned its back on our country's finest deserves $2 million worth of pork-barrel projects. So, I will introduce legislation to revoke the funding.

Included in the $2 million worth of pork are some particularly wasteful projects.

One earmark provides gourmet organic lunches to schools in the Berkeley School District. While our Marines are making due with MREs of Sloppy Joe and Chili with Beans, the organization Chez Panisse is getting federal tax dollars to design meals that promote "environmental harmony." Chez Panisse's menu features "Comté cheese soufflé with mâche salad," "Meyer lemon éclairs with huckleberry coulis" and "Chicory salad with creamy anchovy vinaigrette and olive toast."

Are we to understand that the city that has been home to many of the country's most rich and famous cannot afford to pay for its own designer school lunches?

Another $975,000 earmark is for the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at U.C. Berkeley, which may include cataloging the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui. Is it really necessary to tax the paychecks of Marines so we can earmark nearly $1 million for a school that is already sitting on a $3.5 billion endowment?

Let me be clear, my bill does does not cut off all federal funds to the city of Berkeley, though I am sure most Americans would feel that is justified. My bill merely rescinds wasteful earmarks. Berkeley is free to compete with other towns and cities across America for merit-based federal grants.

Actions have consequences. When the Berkeley City Council decided to insult the Marines in a time of war, it was a $2 million decision. Especially in a time of war, we cannot just allow cities to play insulting games at our troops' expense while continuing to shower them with congressional favors.


02-07-08, 08:33 PM
Editorial: Council goes berserk with assault on Marines
Craig Lazzeretti, Editor of The Berkeley Voice
Article Launched: 02/07/2008 04:29:30 PM PST

GIVE BERKELEY credit for one thing. It certainly knows how to keep itself in the national spotlight, even if it means perpetuating its "Berserkeley" stereotype. Any time the city starts to fade as a real or perceived center of liberal radicalism, you can count on an out-of-control City Council to make some outrageous pronouncement that instantly becomes the subject of scorn from coast to coast.

And so it was with the council's declaration last week that the Marine Corps recruiting station on Shattuck Avenue "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." That must have been somewhat like the statement the Japanese made when the Marines had the nerve to step foot on their beach at Iwo Jima during World War II.

Not surprisingly, the response to those incendiary comments was immediate and overwhelming. Our initial story at ContraCostaTimes.com generated 160,000 page views and more than 2,000 comments in the first two days. The neocons across the country seized on the resolution the same way they seized on those bogus intelligence reports about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction back in 2002.

This week, a group of Republican senators introduced a bill to strip the city of federal funds, including money earmarked for the Berkeley school district and UC Berkeley, which have absolutely nothing to do with the positions of the City Council (just ask the university, which is being sued by the council over its athletic training center project). Talk about guilt by association.

His inbox overflowing with outrage, Berkeley Mayor and former Army Captain Tom Bates performed a neat tactical maneuver: simultaneously retreating and advancing on the council's senseless action. He issued a statement late last week saying the council would revisit the declaration on Tuesday because the original version "did not adequately differentiate our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces and our opposition to the Iraq war policy."

At the same time, he made clear he still wants the Marines out of town by offering to help negotiate an end to their lease with their landlord, whom he noted is a close friend.

Those mayoral connections sure come in handy at times like these. It was sort of like telling a neighbor you've been feuding with for months that you really like him after all, so much so that you'll even help find him a new place to live.

The trouble, of course, with the council's flawed logic is that the U.S. Marine Corps does not set U.S. policy in Iraq or anywhere else. It had nothing to do with the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, and it will not decide when we leave. Its operations also extend far beyond Iraq, many of which are more humanitarian than military in nature. Does the council oppose the Marines helping the downtrodden in Africa as well?

Whatever the council's intention, this declaration and the other items it passed targeting the recruiting station are directed squarely at a branch of the U.S. military, and therefore the men and women who wear its uniform. An item seeking to enforce the city's policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines was equally ludicrous (they didn't create don't ask, don't tell; Bill Clinton did). Gordon Wozniak should be anointed the council's voice of reason for being the only one to oppose each and every item concerning the recruiting station last week.

"I understand that there are people across the country that may not agree with this action but it is the Berkeley City Council's responsibility to represent the will of the people of Berkeley," Bates said in his statement.

I don't believe for a moment the council's action represents the will of most of the city's residents. It represents the will of a radical, intolerant fringe group that dominates city politics and is out of step with sensible progressives here and across the country. If you don't believe me, just read some of the letters from Berkeley residents on this page.

The Web comments we received to Doug Oakley's stories were nearly universal in their condemnation of the council's action. A poll we posted at ContraCostaTimes.com on the issue had generated 285 responses as of Thursday morning; 274 respondents said they opposed the council's action. I guess the 11 people who said yes are the ones who represent "the will of the people of Berkeley."

Certainly, many of the comments and votes came from hawks who have backed the war from the beginning and still believe it is a good idea. But opponents of the war also were outraged by this blatant attack on the U.S. military. And for good reason.

I would argue that those in the anti-war camp have even more reason to be disgusted and indignant over the council's action. From the beginning, we have fought the ridiculous notion that our opposition to this war is a slap at the men and women of our armed forces who sacrifice so much. Many of us also have loved ones in uniform, or veterans of the armed forces, whose commitment to preserving our freedoms we cherish immensely.

When the council makes a statement calling the Marines "intruders" in its city, and encouraging people to impede their activities, it not only insults the men and women at that recruiting station but all who wear the uniform of our nation's armed services across the world - and, by extension, their families, friends and loved ones.

It was also telling that the office of Rep. Barbara Lee - perhaps the leading anti-war voice in Congress - expressed no support for the council's action while vowing to fight any effort to strip the city of federal funds. When even Lee thinks you've gone too far in making an anti-war statement, that's saying something.

Of course, Lee's silence is not surprising. The council just provided fresh fodder in an election year for the pro-war crowd that seeks to keep us in Iraq indefinitely, equating any attempt to leave with a lack of support for the troops.

It looks as though there will be an attempt by some on the council, perhaps a majority, to rescind the "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" item on Tuesday. But how about all the other insults the council heaped upon the Marine Corps through various votes? Is it going to tell the Marines they are now welcome to stay while still encouraging people to impede their mission with the help of a free parking space and noise permit?

If the council really cares about influencing public opinion and ending the war in Iraq, it will retract all its actions concerning the Marine recruiting station next week and replace them with a sincere apology to the Marines and other branches of our armed forces.

And let Code Pink search for a parking space like everyone else who has the nerve to increase our dependence on foreign oil by driving downtown.

Craig Lazzeretti is editor of The Berkeley Voice and The Journal of Albany, El Cerrito and Kensington. Reach him at 510-262-2724 or clazzeretti@bayareanewsgroup.com


02-07-08, 08:56 PM
02/07/2008 <br />
Women Marines celebrate 65 years <br />
By Rhonda Moore , Staff Writer <br />
<br />
The Castle Rock chapter of the Women Marines Association will celebrate the 65th anniversary of women in the Marine...

02-08-08, 06:29 AM
Road funds at risk over Marines
By Steve Geissinger
MediaNews Sacramento Bureau
Article Launched: 02/08/2008 01:59:08 AM PST

SACRAMENTO - Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon announced plans today to punish Berkeley's stand against Marine recruiting by withholding $3.3 million in state road funds, atop another $2.3 million in federal money that's also being challenged.

Meanwhile, Move America Forward - which calls itself the nation's largest grass-roots pro-troop organization - scheduled a demonstration against the Berkeley City Council on Tuesday.

The council voted last week to tell the Marines that a recruiting office is not welcome in their town.

Move America Forward asked Berkeley to rescind its action and issue a formal apology to all military personnel. Some council members said Wednesday that they are considering actions to defuse the controversy.

Houston, the Bay Area's lone GOP state lawmaker, said he will introduce legislation to strip Berkeley of $3.3 million in voter-approved transportation funds until Berkeley leaders rescind their "war on the U.S. Marine Corps."

The Republican move at the state level mirrors action Wednesday by several GOP congressional members who want to punish Berkeley by withholding $2.3 million in federal funds for a wide array of uses.

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, was not immediately available for comment.

Both the state and federal moves to withhold money were largely symbolic, with little chance of passing at either level of government. Houston said in a statement that he

"cannot stand by and do nothing while the City of Berkeley declares war on the United States Marine Corps."

"The Marines, and all of our branches of the military, deserve the honor of our elected officials, not their scorn," he said.

The city "took the extraordinary action" of approving a resolution that will result in a letter being sent to the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps that their Marine recruiting office is not welcome in the City of Berkeley. If recruiters choose to stay, they do "so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders," Houston said.

The legislator said the city's resolution also applauds residents and organizations "that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by non-violent means, the work or any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley," but added this "non-violent means" has resulted in people chaining themselves to one another in order to physically obstruct people from entering the Marine recruiting office.

Houston provided a Web site to view video of protesters physically blocking access to the Berkeley Marine Corps office: www.breitbart.tv/?p=41464&comments=1.

Move America Forward said it held an October rally in solidarity with the Marines outside the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley, after the site was "vandalized and defaced" by "anti-military" protesters.


02-09-08, 09:20 AM
Berkeley to Marines: You're 'not welcome in our city'

By Wayne Drash

(CNN) -- Berkeley, the famously liberal college town in California, has taken aim at Marine recruiters, saying they are "not welcome in our city."

Republican lawmakers in Washington fired back this week, threatening to take back more than $2 million of federal funding to the city as well as money designated for the University of California-Berkeley, the campus that became a haven of protests during the Vietnam War.

The battle erupted after the Berkeley City Council approved a measure last week urging the Marine recruiters to leave their downtown office.

"If recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders," the item says.

It goes on to say the council applauds residents and organizations that "volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley." See photos of protesters camped outside Marine office »http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/07/berkeley.protests/index.html#cnnSTCPhoto

Outside the Shattuck Avenue recruiting station earlier this week, a handful of protesters with the anti-war group Code Pink camped out, strumming a guitar as they sang anti-war songs and held signs against the Iraq war.

"Time to end the war, time to end the war, time to end the war right now," they sang to the beat of "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Watch protesters sing "I Ain't Afraid" »http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/07/berkeley.protests/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

One giant sign said, "No Military Predators in Our Town." Another message on a pink placard read, "Join the Marines. Travel to Exotic Lands. Meet Exciting and Unusual People -- And Kill Them."

Zanne Joi peered out from under her straw hat. "This Marine recruiting station is trying to recruit our youth to go to Iraq to kill and be killed. And we are against that," said Joi, a member of Code Pink Women for Peace.

"This is part of a multi-pronged effort to end this war."

Protester Sharon Adams added: "This recruiting station recruits people to go fight and then once they fight and they serve their country, our country doesn't take care of them. That's a shame."

But not everyone here supports the protesters.Watch young men confront protesters »http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/02/07/berkeley.protests/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

Forrest Smith, who described himself as a veteran of U.S. Special Forces, said his son recently returned from a tour in Iraq and his daughter served in Afghanistan.

"My position on this is the Marines are the best thing we have," said Smith, decked out in Army fatigues.

He blasted the City Council for its action. "It's clearly an abuse of power."

A group of young students who strolled down the sidewalk shared that sentiment. They derided one of the protesters who argued the United States was involved in an illegal war in Iraq.

"Where's the logic in that whatsoever?" one of the young men said. "That's our national security, and you're here protesting the Marines."

Another said, "It makes me sick. It makes me sick."

Gunnery Sgt. Pauline Franklin, a spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, told CNN there is "no plan for that office to move."

She said recruiters are there to "provide information to qualified men and women who are looking for opportunities that they may benefit from by serving in the military."

"The Marine Corps is here to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, which does guarantee the freedom of speech," Franklin said. "In terms of the situation in Berkeley, the City Council and the protesters are exercising their right to do so."

In Washington, a group of Republican lawmakers have introduced the Semper Fi Act of 2008 -- named after the Marine motto -- to rescind more than $2 million of funds for Berkeley and transfer it to the Marine Corps.

"Like most Americans, I really get disturbed when taxpayer money goes to institutions which proceed to take votes, make policy or make statements that really denigrate the military," said Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, a co-sponsor of the bill.

He told CNN he believes the bill will pass. "I think it's going to have significant support."

The bill's co-sponsor, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, said in a written statement, "Berkeley needs to learn that their actions have consequences."

Berkeley's declaration, which was introduced by the city's Peace and Justice Commission, accuses the United States of having a history of "launching illegal, immoral and unprovoked wars of aggression and the Bush administration launched the most recent of those wars in Iraq and is threatening the possibility of war in Iran."

It adds, "Military recruiters are salespeople known to lie to and seduce minors and young adults into contracting themselves into military service with false promises regarding jobs, job training, education and other benefits."

Out on Shattuck Avenue, it appears the protesters have no plans to leave anytime soon. "We are the civilian population; we control the military," Adams said. "We the people have to take back our control of the military."

CNN's Jim Castel and Peter Ornstein contributed to this story from Berkeley, and CNN's Dick Uliano contributed from Washington.


02-09-08, 10:33 AM
Penalty eyed for Berkeley stance on Marines
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Feb 8, 2008 12:47:47 EST

BERKELEY, Calif. — A Republican state lawmaker wants to cut off more than $3 million in state funding from Berkeley to punish the city for its stance against Marines recruiting.

Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon says he plans to introduce legislation to withhold state transportation money until Berkeley rescinds its “war on the U.S. Marine Corps.”

The move mirrors an effort by several Republican Congressmen to cut off $2.3 million in federal funding after the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution opposing the Marines’ downtown recruiting center.

Legislation to withhold government funds are largely symbolic and have little chance of passing.

Still, next week Berkeley council members will consider rescinding the Marines’ declaration to defuse the controversy.


02-10-08, 08:33 PM
Penalty eyed for Berkeley stance on Marines
The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Feb 8, 2008 12:47:47 EST

BERKELEY, Calif. — A Republican state lawmaker wants to cut off more than $3 million in state funding from Berkeley to punish the city for its stance against Marines recruiting.

Republican Assemblyman Guy Houston of San Ramon says he plans to introduce legislation to withhold state transportation money until Berkeley rescinds its “war on the U.S. Marine Corps.”

The move mirrors an effort by several Republican Congressmen to cut off $2.3 million in federal funding after the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution opposing the Marines’ downtown recruiting center.

Legislation to withhold government funds are largely symbolic and have little chance of passing.

Still, next week Berkeley council members will consider rescinding the Marines’ declaration to defuse the controversy.


02-11-08, 03:11 PM
Berkeley City Council to address Marines recruiting center controversy Tuesday night
Bay City News Service
Article Launched: 02/11/2008 05:41:14 AM PST

Large crowds on both sides of the issue are expected at the Berkeley City Council's meeting Tuesday night, when the council addresses a flap over a Marines recruiting center for the second time.

The City Council ignited a nationwide controversy two weeks ago when it voted 6-3 to send a letter to the U.S. Marines Corps telling it that it's recruiting office at 64 Shattuck Avenue, which opened about 13 months ago, 'is not welcome in our city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders.'

The Council also voted 7-2 to research whether Berkeley's anti-discrimination laws apply to the recruiting center because of the military's 'don't ask, don't tell' policy concerning gay soldiers.

In addition, it voted 8-1 to give the anti-war group Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting office from 12 noon to 4 p.m. every Wednesday for six months and a free sound permit during those same hours so that it's easier for the group to disrupt the recruiting center's activities. Code Pink has been conducting regular protests at the center since last fall.

In response to the council's votes, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has proposed that the federal government cut off funds for Berkeley, including lunch programs, ferry service and the University of California, Berkeley.

State Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, announced that he plans to introduce legislation that will suspend $3.3 million in state

transportation funding from Berkeley until the City Council rescinds what he described as its "anti-military resolution."

In a statement, Houston said, "I cannot stand by and do nothing while the city of Berkeley declares war on the U.S. Marines Corps."

He said, "The Marines, and all of our branches of the military, deserve the honor of our elected officials, not their scorn."

Marines officials have said they don't plan to leave Berkeley, despite the council's vote.

In a bid to calm down the controversy, City Council members Bette Olds and Laurie Capitelli have put an item on Tuesday night's agenda that would rescind the letter calling the Marines "uninvited and unwelcome" and clarify that although the council still opposes the Iraq War it supports America's troops.

However, the item from Olds and Capitelli would leave intact related items that passed two weeks ago: calling on residents to impede the work of any recruiting station in the city, asking the city attorney to find out if the Marines are violating city anti-discrimination laws and giving a parking space and a sound permit to Code Pink.

Council member Gordon Wozniak was the only person to vote against all of the Marines-related items.

Olds voted against most of the measures but supported giving the parking space and sound permit to Code Pink. Kriss Worthington joined them in voting against sending a letter to the Marines.

Julie Sinai, an aide to Mayor Tom Bates, said Bates plans to vote to rescind the letter to the Marines, saying that "the language went too far."

But Sinai said the attempts by DeMint and Houston to strip federal and state funds, respectively, from Berkeley are only "a media play" and won't go anywhere.

She accused DeMint and Houston of "trying to get on the bandwagon."

Melanie Morgan, a KSFO radio talk show host and a leader of the pro-troop group Move America Forward, said on Friday that she expects a large group of pro-military protesters, including some from as far away as Washington, D.C., to attend Tuesday night's meeting.

Morgan said pickets outside the council's chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way will begin at 5 a.m. Tuesday and there will be a presence all day, including at noon and at 5 p.m.

"We want the Berkeley City Council to immediately apologize to the Marines and military members who were insulted by their outrageous words," Morgan said.

She said more than 10,000 people have signed a petition expressing outrage at the council's vote.

Code Pink members who don't want the council to back down will begin a 24-hour 'peace-in' beginning at 7 p.m. Monday outside the council's chambers.


02-12-08, 09:26 AM
Berkeley Set For Showdown Over Anti-Marines Resolution

POSTED: 8:53 pm PST February 11, 2008
UPDATED: 11:52 pm PST February 11, 2008
BERKELEY, Calif. -- The city of Berkeley is no stranger to vocal political protests, but a real firestorm of controversy surrounding the stand some city council members took against a U.S. Marines recruiting center will come to a head Tuesday night when officials meet to reconsider the resolution.

An anti-war encampment is set up on the front lawn of the old Berkeley City Hall where the city council will hold its meeting Tuesday night. Code Pink organizers call this an emergency action to prepare for what is certain to be a very contentious meeting over the Marines recruiting station on Shattuck Avenue.

The city council action calling for the Marines to leave the city has ignited a storm of controversy across the nation. On Monday night, Code Pink leaders said that's exactly what they wanted.

"We're delighted. We're excited about the whole thing. It just shines a much needed light on the issue of the war," said peace activist and Code Pink cofounder Medea Benjamin.

One Berkeley city leader says 24,000 e-mails have poured in to Berkeley City Hall from across the Bay area and the nation addressing the city's resolution targeting the U.S. Marines' recruiting office.

One of those angry about the city's action is San Pablo City Councilman Paul Morris. He stopped by to hand deliver a blistering letter to Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates. The letter called the city "a national joke" and read in part: "I am ashamed to call you a neighbor. What you are doing is tantamount to pure and utter anarchy. You are weak to pander to these crazy pink people. When will you all grow up?"

"The buzz is they're just as angry. this is a terrible example to our youth and a lot of our people that are involved with the city," said Morris.

Just one Berkeley council member was available to speak to Monday night. Gordon Wozniak voted against the resolution allowing Code Pink to set up a permanent protest in front of the Marines’ recruiting station. He expressed concern about the issue being closed quickly.

"I'm worried that the council's not going to resolve this. We're going to do something that's half heartedly that's going to basically make both sides unhappy and this is going to continue." said Wozniak.

Berkeley police set up barricades in front of the old council chambers Monday evening. After the recent city hall shootings in a suburb outside St. Louis that killed several city employees, police say they're not taking any chances with public safety.

"It would be very very challenging for us to try to separate the groups. Certainly, if there's any volatility, if there's anything physical that happens, we are going to manage that," said Berkeley police officer Mary Kusmiss.

The Marine Corps says it has no plans on abandoning its recruiting station. Berkeley is still facing the threat of having federal and state funds cut off if it tries to get the Marines out. Medea Benjamin says that threat shouldn't be taken seriously.

"Then give Berkeley back the $56 million that it will spend this year alone on the war so we can invest it in what we want here, which would be schools and health care and green jobs and solar panels for our homes. That would make us a lot more secure than a war in Iraq," argued Benjamin.

Counter protestors from a group called Move America Forward are expected to gather as early as 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. Police haven't said how they plan on dealing with the two groups.

There's also concern about public access to the council chambers, which only has about a hundred seats. There's concern one side or the other will try to get in early to hold seats and deny the other side an opportunity to speak.


02-13-08, 06:34 AM
Posted on Wed, Feb. 13, 2008
Berkeley eases anti-Marines stance
City council members who were criticized for telling Marine recruiters they don't belong here have moderated their position, saying they oppose the Iraq war but support the troops.

The Berkeley City Council voted two weeks ago to send a letter to a downtown recruitment station advising the Marines they were not welcome.

After a marathon session that stretched into early Wednesday, the council decided against sending the letter, saying it recognizes recruiters' right to be in Berkeley. The council members say they still strongly oppose the war and the recruitment of young people, but "deeply respect and support" the men and women of the armed forces.

Some on the council had pushed for issuing an apology. Others rejected that, saying they just wanted to clarify their position.

Councilwoman Linda Maio said the council opposes recruitment, not the military. "It's behavior that we oppose, not the people," she said.

The meeting drew hundreds of people on both sides of the issue who rallied outside City Hall from dawn until well into the night.

Inside the chamber, scores of speakers addressed the council, some decrying its earlier action.

"You owe our military an apology," said Kevin Graves, a San Francisco Bay area resident who said his son died serving in Iraq.

Others applauded the council's stand.

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the anti-war group Code Pink, said her group supports the troops - "we support them so much that we're desperate to get them back home."

In rallies outside, pro-troop group Move America Forward sponsored one protest, holding signs that said "Stop Bashing Our Boys." On the other side, anti-war group Code Pink held bouquets of flowers and waved signs saying "Peace Now" and "Bring Our Troops Home."

Police estimated the crowd at about 2,000 at its height. A handful of people were arrested for scuffles between protesters, police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said.

The recruiting office opened in Berkeley in late 2006. It operated quietly until four months ago, when Code Pink began holding regular protests.


02-13-08, 02:12 PM
Three arrested in Berkeley protests over Marines

Steve Rubenstein, Marisa Lagos,Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writers

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

(02-12) 18:30 PST Berkeley - --

Downtown Berkeley became a battleground of its own kind today as about 500 anti-war and pro-military protesters faced off in a public plaza over the Marine Corps' recruiting center in the city. Three protesters - a man and two teenagers - were arrested in separate scuffles, police said.

The City Council is scheduled to decide tonight whether to revoke a letter it approved two weeks ago telling the Marines they are "unwelcome intruders" and should leave. The council's action provoked widespread debate.

In anticipation of the meeting tonight at City Hall, anti-war protesters lined up on one side of Martin Luther King Jr. Way while pro-military groups took control of the other side. Things were peaceful for most of the morning.

But by early afternoon things heated up as more than three dozen police with batons and riot gear formed a line to separate the two sides. About 1 p.m., a man supporting the Marines' presence in Berkeley ventured into the encampment of anti-war group Code Pink and drew a knife.

Police arrested 49-year-old Keith Donald Salvatore of Rocklin (Placer County) for allegedly brandishing the weapon. Salvatore told police he had drawn the knife in self-defense after anti-war protesters wrapped him in a pink banner, said Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, a police spokeswoman.

A Code Pink activist from San Ramon said the man threatened to kill her, Kumiss said.

About 250 people showed up on each side. They included dozens of students from local schools, including Berkeley High, who chanted "One, two, three, four. Berkeley High against the war."

Police warned the students not to antagonize the other side, but two boys on skateboards got into a yelling and swearing match with the Marine supporters. Fists flew, and some witnesses claimed the pro-Marine side struck the two students with a flagpole. The boys, 13 and 15 years old, were arrested.

A large group of students and adults gathered outside the police station, demanding that the teens be released, prompting police to order them to clear the area. When they didn't respond immediately, officers in riot gear held their batons horizontally in front of them and pushed the crowd back.

Maya Nadjieli, a 19-year-old Berkeley City College student, said she was hit in the stomach with a baton and punched twice in the face.

"No matter how far we were moving back, they kept hitting us," Nadjieli said.

Other protesters came from outside the city. One of them, Mary Mankowski of Portland, Ore., said she paid $350 to fly in Monday.

"It kills me to pay full fare but this is important," said Mankowski, who claimed that every generation of her family has served in the military since the American Revolution. "(This is an) outrageous erosion of our constitutional privileges."

Diane Britto of Lafayette and her friend Elynne Allen of Pleasant Hill vowed they would never spend another dollar in the city of Berkeley. Britto, whose son is in the Navy, said she would keep her season tickets to Cal football games but will have dinner in Oakland on game days from now on.

Berkeley's treatment of the Marines, she said, was "despicable to the rest of the nation."

Allen, whose husband served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, said she would push her car outside the city limits if it runs out of gas while she's in Berkeley.

Anti-war protesters gathered on the other side of the street, as Code Pink sold T-shirts, waved flags and sang "We Shall Not be Moved" through a loudspeaker.

"I'm here to thank the city council for dis-inviting the Marines," said Berkeley resident Tim Modok, who was attending with his schnauzer, Susie. "I'd rather have a porn (outlet) two blocks from an elementary school and a high school than I would a Marines recruiter; they're telling kids lies to get them into this war. These are very dangerous people. They're lying to their children, talking them into becoming killers."

Linci Comy of Oakland said she was there for future generations.

"I don't want my kids and grandkids to go to another war of occupation," she said. "We have to set a standard, we have to tell the world that military recruitment is no longer acceptable."

As the protests raged, the Marines recruiting station was closed and a lone police officer on a bicycle patrolled outside.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight at Maudelle Shirek City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley. An overflow crowd is expected for discussion of the Marines recruiting center, which is expected to begin about 9 p.m. For those who don't get inside, the city will broadcast audio from the meeting from loudspeakers outside City Hall.

E-mail the writers at srubenstein@sfchronicle.com and mlagos@sfchornicle.com.


02-13-08, 08:28 PM
Booting Marines Lands Mayor in Crossfire

AP - Thursday, February 14
By JOHN SEEWER,Associated Press Writer AP - Thursday, February 14

TOLEDO, Ohio - Turning away a squad of Marine Corps reservists planning a weekend of training downtown has put the city's mayor in the crossfire of veterans.

Even some supporters wonder what he was thinking.

Mayor Carty Finkbeiner told the Marines, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., to turn around when they hit town Friday, saying he didn't want them scaring unsuspecting visitors and office workers.

City Council members have sent an apology to the Marines, and the local visitors bureau offered the unit's 200 members a free hotel stay, restaurant gift certificates and a visit to the zoo.

"I'm shaking I'm so upset," said Ron Hernandez, a former Marine who served in Vietnam. "It's a slap in the face."

The mayor said he didn't mean to inconvenience the unit, which had to cancel the exercise and return home.

Yet Finkbeiner _ a three-term mayor whose history of gaffes includes considering moving deaf people near the airport to solve noise complaints _ said if the Marines try to come downtown, he'll close the door in their faces again.

The mayor said he didn't know the city's police department had approved the latest urban warfare training until a few hours before the Marines arrived. Police sent out a news release to the media three days before the Marines arrived, but no one had alerted business owners or residents downtown.

A similar training exercise two years ago caught people off guard when they saw soldiers in camouflage running down sidewalks, crouching behind buildings and aiming their weapons, Finkbeiner said.

Not everyone thinks his stand against the Marines' plan to simulate firefights and ambushes and fire blank ammunition downtown was a mistake.

"This isn't about being for or against our military," said Jan Moore, a lifelong resident. "This is about avoiding potential danger."

She and her husband were downtown three years ago during another training exercise when a soldier in fatigues sprinted past their car with his gun drawn. Other soldiers then surrounded a building, she said.

"We didn't know what the heck was going on," she said. "My mind was going crazy."

Five minutes of panic passed before they figured out the city wasn't under siege. "Our first thought wasn't that this was just training," she said.

Maj. Dan Whisnant, commander of 1st Battalion, 24th Marines, said the training is vital to his troops, who were deployed to Iraq twice in the past two years. They've trained in the city four times since 2004.

Finkbeiner's string of memorable missteps goes back to 1994 when he was first elected mayor of the state's fourth-largest city, whose most famous soldier _ Cpl. Max Klinger _ was portrayed by Toledo native Jamie Farr on television's "M-A-S-H."

Finkbeiner once settled a lawsuit against the city with a former employee who accused him of hitting her with a mug. He wound up offering a tearful apology on the misguided proposal to put deaf residents near the airport. And when he asked for a boycott of a pizza chain because he said it didn't support the city, stores responded by offering "Crazy Carty Bread."

The dustup with the Marines has had bloggers and talk show hosts nationwide ripping Finkbeiner, who insisted he's not unpatriotic and called anyone questioning his loyalty a "baboon." He also offered to allow the Marines to return for training, but not downtown.

None of that appeased veterans who flooded city offices with complaints, some saying they'd never set foot in the city again.

"The timing of this was horrible, to do it when they got here," said Jerry Knapp, a former Marine whose son is serving in Iraq.

Another former Marine, City Councilman D. Michael Collins, said the mayor's banishment of the troops has given the city "an image that is not accurate or fair."

Collins doesn't think Finkbeiner meant any disrespect toward the Marines. He said the city should have told downtown business owners and residents about the training and let it continue.

"The mayor was in a bad situation," Collins said. "He was surprised there was going to be a military operation."


02-15-08, 09:17 AM
New front in Berkeley-Marines war: U.S. Senate

Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Friday, February 15, 2008

(02-15) 04:00 PST Washington - --

The fighting over Berkeley's snub of the U.S. Marine Corps hasn't died down - it's moved to the U.S. Senate.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint made good on his threat to punish the Berkeley City Council by introducing a proposal Thursday to strip the city of more than $2.1 million in federal earmarks and give the money instead to the Marine Corps.

"This particular case became the business of the American people when the city of Berkeley insulted our troops and their constitutional mission to defend our country, while still coming to the federal government asking for special taxpayer-funded handouts," DeMint said.

The measure appears to be going nowhere. Lawmakers are loath to rescind another member's earmarks - for fear of losing their own. DeMint attached it as an amendment to an Indian health bill, and Democrats warned it could be ruled non-germane.

But the bill's slim odds didn't stop California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer from rushing to the Senate floor to denounce it.

"State and local governments all across the nation pass resolutions and measures that many of us don't agree with on a host of issues. Disagreements are part of the political process," she said.

"Why on Earth would we punish good, decent citizens because some members of their local government or their sewer district or the mosquito abatement district or water district, any of their districts, say something that's highly offensive?"

Boxer said she disagreed with the letter the City Council originally approved, which called the Marines "unwelcome intruders" for operating a downtown recruiting center. But she noted that DeMint is ignoring the latest developments: The council voted 7-2 Wednesday not to send the letter, while restating its opposition to the war and refusing to apologize.

"You would think Sen. DeMint would be very glad of that," she said. "He's not. He's still angry and he is still wanting to fight the battle of a couple weeks ago."

In fact, the Berkeley City Council may be the only group trying to make this fight go away. Anti-war groups like Code Pink are loving the attention paid to their cause. And for talk radio hosts and politicians on the right, it's an easy way to marginalize the war's critics as unpatriotic.

For DeMint, it's a double-bonus: He gets to appear both pro-military and anti-pork-barrel spending.

But the threat to Berkeley's funding is unusual. And it's not simply DeMint. His 10 Senate co-sponsors include Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. In the House, the same "Semper Fi Act" has 71 co-sponsors.

The five earmarks were all approved last year: $750,000 for ferry service to Berkeley and Albany; $87,000 for the Berkeley Unified School District's Edible Schoolyard program; $94,000 for the city's police and fire emergency communications system; $975,000 for the Robert T. Matsui Foundation for Public Service at UC Berkeley; and $239,000 for the Ed Roberts Campus, which serves disabled adults and children.

Since this whole debate is a food fight, it was no surprise which earmark DeMint attacked first.

"One earmark provides gourmet organic lunches to schools in the Berkeley school district while our Marines make do with military rations of sloppy joes and chili beans," he said. "This is unacceptable."

Boxer was apoplectic. She showed photos of students in Berkeley working in the garden, learning how to plant and grow vegetables.

"They work the garden, they learn about nutrition, they learn how to cook the food," Boxer said. "Here's a program that teaches them to love the whole notion of eating in a healthy way, and that's the program he went after?"

No action had been taken on DeMint's amendment as of late Thursday.

E-mail Zachary Coile at zcoile@sfchronicle.com.