U.S. Senator Threatens to Remove Funding After Anti-Recruitment Resolution

Updated Friday, Feb. 1 at 7:15 p.m.

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A United States Senator said he will introduce legislation that would strip funding for at least six projects in Berkeley after the City Council said a Marine Corps recruiting center was unwelcome in the city.

Organizations including UC Berkeley, the Berkeley Unified School District and other groups would lose $2,392,000 in earmarked spending if planned legislation by Senator Jim DeMint, R-S.C., passes.

This includes $975,000 for UC Berkeley's Matsui Center on Politics and Public Service and $750,000 for ferry service to Berkeley or Albany.

In a press release issued Thursday, DeMint said his proposed legislation was a response to the City Council's decision to support protesters who object to the recruiting station.

"This is a slap in the face to all brave service men and women and their families," DeMint said in a 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."

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who sponsored many of the earmarks issued to Berkeley organizations, objected to DeMint's effort, her staff said.

"The congresswoman would strongly oppose any attempt to punish the people of Berkeley by stripping them of much needed federal funding," said Cleve Mesidor, a spokesperson for Lee.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who voted for the resolutions against the center, said that the council supports the troops, but said that they hope to see the war end as soon as possible.

"The recruiting center is a symbol for the war and it provides (protestors) a convenient place to express their opposition against a war that they believe is illegal and immoral," Bates said. "I think it was unfortunate that the Marines chose to place a recruiting center in Berkeley. It's like poking us with a stick."

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who voted against the resolutions, said he was unhappy with DeMint's decision.

"These are good projects, they should be judged on their merit and not whether you agree with Berkeley politics or not," he said.

Wozniak said he felt the center had a right to operate in Berkeley.

"It's a legitimate operation," Wozniak said. "There's not a law against it, they have a right to be here like anybody else does."

In an effort to retain their funding, the campus plans to contact DeMint and inform him that the city and the campus are separate institutions, as well as tell him about the campus's ROTC program, said UC Berkeley spokesperson Marie Felde.

"We are hopeful that when he has the facts he will rethink his position," she said.

Despite the City Council's resolutions giving protesters reserved space near the military recruitment center and the effort by some local activists to change zoning laws to limit recruiters ability to open new centers in Berkeley, Marines say they have no intention of leaving the city.

"The fact that there are protestors out there and that the City Council has made those comments indicates that they are using their right to free speech that is guaranteed to all Americans by the Constitution," said Gunnery Sgt. Pauline Franklin, a Marine Corps spokesperson. "That Constitution is the same one that we as service members take an oath to uphold and defend."


Contact Taylor Fife at [email protected]

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