Berkeley council against Iraq war
but 'supports' armed forces
Code Pink member Nancy Mancias urges the Berkeley City Council
to remain steadfast in its opposition to military recruitment
Photos by John
Han and Luke
By Jeff Shuttleworth
February 13, 2008
Members of the anti-war group Code Pink applauded the Berkeley
City Council early today when it ended a marathon meeting by refusing
to apologize for a vote two weeks ago that said members of a U.S.
Marine Corps recruiting office downtown are "uninvited and
But Ryan Gill, the operations manager for the Sacramento-based
pro-troop group Move America Forward, said the council's vote
likely will provide more impetus for state and federal legislators
who are threatening to cut off funding for several Berkeley programs
to retaliate against the city.
At the end of a public hearing that began about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday
and concluded at 1:07 a.m. today, the council voted 7-2 to approve
what it said is "more clear language" indicating that
it recognizes the recruiter's right to locate in "our city"
and to emphasize that "we deeply respect and support the
men and women in our armed forces."
The council majority also said it wants to "publicly differentiate
between the city's documented opposition to the unjust and illegal
war in Iraq and our respect and support for those serving in the
The council's vote capped more than 24 hours of demonstrations
both by veterans and military supporters who said the council
should apologize for its Jan. 29 vote against the Marines recruiting
office, which has been located at 64 Shattuck Ave. for about 13
months, and by anti-war activists who supported the council and
said it shouldn't back down.
Berkeley police spokeswoman Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said crowd management
commanders estimated that about 2,000 demonstrators gathered outside
Berkeley City Council chambers on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at
the peak of various actions on Tuesday.
Police dressed in riot gear gathered in the middle of the street
to keep the pro- and anti military groups apart.
Police succeeded in keeping things calm for the most part, but
Kusmiss said four people were arrested on various misdemeanor
She said a 49-year-old pro-military demonstrator from Rocklin
was arrested for brandishing a knife after he confronted a Code
Pink demonstrator who had draped a banner over him.
Kusmiss said two Berkeley High School students, one 15 and one
13, were arrested for disturbing the peace for challenging a pro-military
demonstrator to fight.
She said that after the students were arrested and taken to the
Berkeley jail, which is adjacent to City Council chambers, a large
group of youths "surged" toward the public safety building,
where the jail is located.
Kusmiss said officers protected the building, but an 18-year-old
woman demanded to be let inside and then slapped an officer in
the face. The woman was booked for resisting arrest and battery
on an officer, she said.
In a brief interview after the council finished voting today,
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates said there was no reason for the council
to apologize for its Jan. 29 vote.
"What would we apologize for?" he asked.
Referring to the Marines, Bates said, "They were uninvited
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates
During the meeting, Bates said, "The Marines have a right
to be in Berkeley, but I don't like it. I think it's bad judgment
and I wish they would leave and we can suggest that it would be
good for them to move on."
The council's 7-2 vote was in favor of a substitute motion written
by Bates and council members Max Anderson, Linda Maio and Darryl
The two "no" votes were cast by Gordon Wozniak and
Betty Olds. The council rejected a motion by Olds and Laurie Capitelli
that would have rescinded the part of the Jan. 29 vote calling
for a letter to be sent to the Marines advising them that the
recruiting office is not welcome in Berkeley.
Wozniak told his colleagues, "I think an apology is due.
We insulted the Marines and they deserve an apology."
Wozniak said the issue isn't the war in Iraq because the City
Council has long been on record for opposing the war.
He said young people should be able to choose for themselves
if they want to join the Marines and noted that the recruiting
office is targeting potential officers who already in college,
not naive 18-year-olds who are still in high school.
He also said the Marines do more than just fight in Iraq, as
they also protect U.S. embassies around the world and perform
Olds agreed with Wozniak's comments, saying, "Insulting
Marines and asking them to leave isn't effective."
After the council voted, Wozniak said he's also upset that the
council is still on record as applauding groups such as Code Pink
that "impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means,
the work of any military recruiting office located in the city
In response to the council's Jan. 29 vote, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint,
R-S.C., has proposed that the federal government cut off certain
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 would suspend $3.3 million
in state transportation funding from Berkeley.
Houston attended the City Council's meeting and told members
"you've embarrassed the country."