City Council Passes Motions Criticizing Marines Office

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Members of the Berkeley City Council showed their opposition to a Marine Corps recruiting office in Downtown Berkeley last night.

Council members supported the two resolutions-one supporting anti-war protests and the other criticizing military recruitment practices-citing opposition to the war in Iraq, deceptive recruitment practices and the right to protest.

"By taking a stand against recruitment we are protecting the health and safety of our youth," said PhoeBe sorgen, a member of the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. "I see the protest as taking a proud and courageous stand."

Code Pink, a national anti-war grassroots organization, will be granted a parking spot for their regular Wednesday afternoon protests and will not need to apply for a sound permit for the next six months, under one resolution.

The other resolution more directly criticizes the presence of the center in Berkeley. The city manager was directed to send a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps saying they are "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" in the city.

In addition, the city attorney has been directed to investigate whether the city's anti-discrimination laws can be enforced at the center, based on the military's consideration of sexual orientation in hiring.

Marine recruiters did not return calls for comment yesterday.

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who voted against both resolutions, said perpetuating the conflict in front of the center would harm nearby businesses.

Ziba Fanaian, manager of Z & S Beauty Studio, said the anti-war activists are disruptive when they create noise and block the sidewalk.

"Sometimes it is very crowded," she said. "It is not easy for us, for business."

Council members condemned the war in Iraq and recruiting practices that make false promises to potential recruits.

"If we can provide a space for ordinary people to protest this barbarity, we ought to do so," said Councilmember Max Anderson.

Councilmember Betty Olds voted against the resolution to criticize the military, while Councilmember Kriss Worthington voted against the requirement to send a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli voted for both resolutions but said he was concerned about the council's opinion on the war influencing the procedural aspects of the resolution, which was the first of its kind ever passed in the city.

"We are not talking about the legality of the Iraq war," he said.

The City Council's decision echoes mounting opposition to military recruitment in the Berkeley.

Local activists have proposed an initiative for the November 2008 elections that would require military recruiting centers to acquire a special use permit.

"The Marines ought to have better sense than to come here," Olds said.


Contact Asaf Shalev at [email protected]

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