Berkeley College Republicans Crash Anti-war Protest

Photo: Members of World Can't Wait protest on Telegraph Avenue as police and passersby look on.
Tim Maloney/Photo
Members of World Can't Wait protest on Telegraph Avenue as police and passersby look on.

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What started as a relatively tame anti-war protest culminated in an aggressive shouting match when Berkeley College Republicans appeared at a World Can't Wait protest yesterday afternoon.

Around 45 volunteers for World Can't Wait, a national anti-war group, assembled at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park at 3 p.m. for an organized march through the city of Berkeley.

Giovanni Jackson, a youth organizer for World Can't Wait, said that the protest was designed to remind citizens that Obama's victory in the presidential election does not change the fact that the U.S. is still engaged in two wars.

"Obama is not an anti-war candidate," Jackson said. "The change that people want is not going to come from him. It's going to come from people resisting our government."

Despite their megaphones, the group's anti-war chants were muffled by a small group of about 10 counterprotesters-most of whom were members of the Berkeley College Republicans-wielding American flags and an unlikely message in support of Obama.

Spencer Doyle, a senior at UC Berkeley and a member of Berkeley College Republicans, said that he and his friends participated in the counterprotest to show support for the country and the troops.

"I think Obama has the potential to make positive change in the US," Doyle said. "I voted for John McCain, but as an American I support Barack Obama."

The two groups traded insults for two and a half hours as the protest moved up Bancroft Way onto the UC Berkeley campus and down Telegraph Avenue.

As the sparring became increasingly aggressive, police presence at the protest increased, but there were no arrests or physical altercations.

The protest ended at around 5:30 p.m. at the Marine Corps recruiting center on Shattuck Avenue, with several of the most vocal participants engaging in more subdued conversation about their respective positions.

Jackson said he thinks World Can't Wait protests, which have been held in several other cities including New York and San Francisco, are a successful way to raise awareness about issues facing the nation.

"I definitely think our protests have helped shape public opinion," he said. "People need to continue to get out in the streets and disrupt business as usual."


Contact Anna Widdowson at [email protected]

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