An update on the Berkeley vs. Marines story (thanks Shell!)...I'm glad that others were outraged like I was, and it seems like Berkeley might try to make it a little right, but it kinda seems like they're back pedaling now...see what you think...
In Berkeley, push to rescind letter to Marines
Carolyn Jones, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
(02-04) 18:52 PST Berkeley -- A week after blasting the Marines as "unwelcome intruders" in Berkeley, two City Council members want the city to back off the declaration that ignited the wrath of the nation's right wing and inspired a Republican senator to try to sever Berkeley's federal funding.
Council members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli on Monday proposed that Berkeley rescind its letter to the U.S. Marine Corps that stated that the downtown Berkeley recruiting center "is not welcome in our city," and publicly declare that Berkeley is against the war but supports the troops.
The City Council will vote on Olds' and Capitelli's two proposals at its meeting next Tuesday.
"I think we shouldn't be seen across the country as hating the Marines," said Olds, who voted against last week's proposals. "If you make a mistake, like we did, you should admit it and correct it and move on."
The brouhaha started last week when the council passed two items condemning the Marine recruiting center on Shattuck Square, which opened about a year ago. The first called on the city clerk to send a letter to the Marines telling them they're unwelcome, and the second item granted Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office every Wednesday afternoon and allowed the group to operate a loudspeaker.
After the items passed, the council was besieged with criticism from right-wing groups and military supporters. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., proposed that the federal government cut off funds for Berkeley, including lunch programs, ferry service and UC Berkeley.
Olds said she heard from hundreds of people angered by the city's action, including many in her Berkeley hills district.
"People are so mad about this. They have relatives in the service, and now they think they're not welcome in Berkeley," she said. "My twin brother was a Marine in World War II. He'd be turning in his grave if he saw this."
The council appears split on the idea of backing down. Some council members said the original proposals inadvertently insulted veterans and those currently serving in the military. Others said Berkeley should stand by its convictions.
"People are used to Berkeley taking a stand for peace, but you have to do it intelligently," said Councilman Kriss Worthington, who voted against sending the letter calling the Marine Corps unwelcome. "You don't want to slap one group in the face and then, the next minute, slap the other group. I think we have an obligation to be thoughtful and sensitive and not be counterproductive to the cause of peace."
Councilwoman Dona Spring said the council should not be cowed by the volume of hate mail and threats.
"I still oppose the Marines recruiting in Berkeley because it's one way of protesting this wasteful war," she said. "Our military policy is a shambles. But we're not in opposition to the Marines; we oppose the policy that directs the Marines."
Meanwhile, the Code Pink protesters said they were disappointed that Berkeley might rescind its letter to the Marines.
"I hope they're not acting out of intimidation," said Code Pink spokeswoman Medea Benjamin. "Berkeley is a city of peace, and a recruiting station does not fit Berkeley's values."
Mayor Tom Bates, a former Army captain, said it probably wouldn't hurt if the council clarified its position.
"It's a symbol, but there are consequences to symbols," he said. "A lot of people think we're anti-Marine, but there's a difference between the warriors and the war. This is an attempt to clarify that."