Republican Group Asks For Protest Permit

Berkeley College Republicans Hope to Oppose Marine Center Code Pink Protests

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The Berkeley College Republicans are looking to get the same permit privileges that anti-war group Code Pink use to protest outside the Marine recruiting center in Downtown Berkeley.

Working with Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the group is asking for sound waiver permits and a parking spot reservation outside the center on Wednesdays from 12 to 4 p.m., the same time Code Pink protests outside the center, said Kimberly Wagner, activism chair for the Berkeley College Republicans.

"(Code Pink's) claim is that they're protecting free speech," she said. "I kind of don't feel they are, they are inhibiting the recruitment center in general. It's important that they are not unopposed, that there are people willing to fight them. Even though it's Berkeley, the liberal center of America, there will be people (opposed)."

Worthington is working to have the item appear on an agenda in May.

But due to miscommunication, the group decided to pursue a different approach.

Currently, they are circulating a petition online that calls for the removal of Code Pink protesters and any other affiliated organizations within a one-mile radius from the recruitment center because they are hurting local businesses.

"It's not necessarily a petition of wanting this on the ballot or resolution, it's more a statement of support," Wagner said.

Acting City Attorney Zach Cowan said if they wanted their proposal to be an initiative or ballot measure, they would have to fulfill prerequisites.

"Circulating petitions just doesn't do it, they have to submit an initiative and we do a title and summary," he said. "What they're doing legally has no effect, no matter how many signatures they get. I think they're exercising free speech, that's great; they're petitioning the government, and that's their right."

Worthington said what the petition called for was "unconstitutional" and that it would not be well-received by the City Council and members of the public.

"I think anywhere in Berkeley you try to create a one mile zone of prohibiting protest, you would get more people protesting on the ban on protesting than you ever get of the original cause," he said.

Councilmember Dona Spring said many organizations approach the council to get permits, but the council gets to make the final decision.

"They have every right to apply for it, but the City Council has every right to grant it or not grant it," she said.

If the City Council does not grant them a permit, the Berkeley College Republicans will circulate another petition that calls for the re-evaluation of Code Pink's permits, Wagner said.

Spring said since state legislature against the city did not pass, she thinks the group's actions are merely for publicity.

"I think it's a crock, and I don't think they're going to get far with that," she said. " ... They're just barking up a dead tree."


Jane Shin covers city government. Contact her at [email protected]

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