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Berkeley City Council: Marines aren't welcome

Code Pink assigned parking to disrupt recruitment

By Jeff Shuttleworth

February 1, 2008

The Marines aren't welcome in Berkeley, the Berkeley City council said in an 8-1 vote Tuesday night.

The council's resolution says that the U.S. Marines Corps recruiting office at 64 Shattuck Ave., 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."

Marines Capt. Rick Lund declined to comment on the resolution today except to say, "We have no plans to move."

The resolution also calls for exploring enforcing Berkeley's law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against the Marines because of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The City Attorney's office will investigate that possible action and report back to the City Council within 60 days, but City Manager Phil Kamlarz says it's "unlikely" that the city has the ability to enforce the city's law against the military.

In a separate but related action, the City Council also voted 8-1 to encourage the peace group Code Pink to disrupt the recruiting office on a weekly basis.

The council's vote gives Code Pink a designated parking space in front of the recruiting office from noon to 4 p.m. every Wednesday for six months and a free sound permit during those same hours.

The lone council member to vote against both measures was Gordon Wozniak.

In another related action, nearly 40 members of the anti-war group The World Can't Wait and Code Pink rallied outside the recruiting office Thursday to call for the office to be shut down as well as to allege that the U.S. military is engaging in war crimes.

Stephanie Tang of the World Can't Wait said the organization engaged in a national day of protest in a number of cities across the country as part of "mass, non-violent civil disobedience against war crimes because we're trying to stop war, torture and lying."

Despite steady rain, protesters gave speeches, chanted slogans such as "Shut it down!" and marched around the block where the recruiting office is located.

Although Lund declined to comment yesterday, in the past he has said that the Marines opened the recruiting office in Berkeley because they had to abandon an office that was located in an old federal building in Alameda that was being torn down.

Lund has said the Berkeley office is conveniently located because it's near the downtown Berkeley BART station and the University of California, Berkeley and is close to major freeways.

City Councilman Max Anderson, who attended Thursday's rally and was one of those who supported the resolution against the Marines, said he doesn't see any contradiction that city officials in Berkeley, the home of the free speech movement, are in effect telling the Marines that their brand of speech isn't welcome.

Anderson said, "The military has hundreds of millions of dollars to run ads on TV" aimed at recruiting young people.

He said, "This small counter-demonstration by us should in no way stop them from propagandizing and recruiting," he said.

Anderson said the council's resolution is only symbolic because it doesn't intervene in the Marines' lease with the landlord who owns the building where the recruiting office is located.

But he said the resolution expresses "the popular will of the people" of Berkeley against war and is telling the Marines "this is not fertile ground here" for recruiting.

Also attending today's rally was Sharon Adams, a member of Code Pink and the National Lawyers Guild who is gathering signatures for a petition that would put a measure on the November ballot in Berkeley that would make it more difficult to open military recruiting offices near homes, parks, schools, churches, libraries or health clinics.

Supporters of the measure need to gather 5,000 signatures by the end of July to get it placed on the ballot.

Adams said the measure wouldn't ban military recruiting offices but would require public hearings if they're within 600 feet of schools, homes, churches or similar facilities.

However, the measure wouldn't apply to offices that already are open, so it wouldn't affect the current Marines recruiting office, she said.




Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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