Support the Troops Rally Protested by Anti-War Groups

Salgu Wissmath/Staff

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At least 100 people rallied to support the troops outside the Marine Corps recruitment center on Saturday.

Participants at the rally consisted mostly of bikers from local Bay Area motorcycle groups and different clubs. Many of them attended a similar rally in March, which was held in opposition to the Berkeley City Council's resolution against the recruitment center.

"We are here to support our marines and the rest of the servicemen," said Morgan Hill resident Thomas Banuelos, a member of CROSS Motorcycle Club Ministries. "Freedom isn't free," said Banuelos.

At the March rally, participants were encouraged to boycott Berkeley stores to protest the council's resolution. On Saturday, they were encouraged to shop at local stores that support the troops, including Bobby G's Pizzeria and Ace Hardware, among others.

"This time we came to spend money at the different stores that support the troops," said Fred Guetterman, a member of Fremont Harley Owners Group. "We wanted to let them know we supported them supporting the troops, so we'd at least spend some money in their stores."

Code Pink members and anti-war group The World Can't Wait were also present to counter-protest the rally and protest against the center.

"We are determined to shut down the recruiting station," said Giovanni Jackson, a youth and student organizer for The World Can't Wait. "Stop the war, stop the torture, shut down the recruiting station."

About 40 police officers were present, including crowd management team members and patrol officers on overtime. No arrests were made.

"Our role is always to ensure that all participants regardless of political position have the opportunity to freely express themselves," said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary C. Kusmiss.

-Salgu Wissmath

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