Saturday, February 02, 2008

Facing Off Over Marine Corps

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Facing Off Over Marine Corps
By Steve Rubenstein and Kevin Fagan


As the right-wing blogosphere railed and a U.S. senator vowed financial retaliation against the Berkeley City Council for its effort to boot the Marine Corps out of town, three war protesters ratcheted up pressure from the left by chaining themselves Friday to the front door of the downtown Marine recruiting office.


The demonstrators snapped their locks shut at 7 a.m. and spent the next 7 1/2 hours blocking the door, waving and chanting as hundreds of cars driving by honked in support. Finally, at 2:30 p.m., police snipped the chains and arrested them. Two of the three were cited for blocking a business and released, and the third was booked into jail on an unrelated traffic warrant, police said.

The demonstrators promptly said they will keep protesting outside the recruiting station at 64 Shattuck Square until the Marines leave Berkeley - which is what the City Council advised the service to do in a vote Tuesday night that called the Marines "unwelcome intruders." The council also voted to allow members of Code Pink, the protest group that helped organize Friday's blockade, to park at a designated space in front of the recruiting office every Wednesday afternoon and operate a loudspeaker.

The council's action apparently made Berkeley the first city in the nation to call for the ouster of a military recruiting station from its borders. "We made really great statements by blocking the door," said one of the three blockaders, 64-year-old Mary Ann Thomas of Oakland. "It's time we became more articulate about what we're doing."

Conservative bloggers and Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., also believe more articulation is necessary - from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

DeMint began drafting legislation Friday to cut $2.1 million in federal funding to Berkeley in a current congressional budget bill and transfer the money to the Marine Corps. The funding would include $750,000 for prospective ferry service, $87,000 for the Berkeley Unified School District nutrition education fund and $243,000 for the Chez Panisse Foundation, which promotes nutritional awareness in school lunch programs.

"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," DeMint said in a statement. He called the council's vote "a slap in the face to all brave servicemen and women and their families."

Conservative blogs blasted the council and Berkeley in general all day with comments such as one on "Gathering of Eagles": "These cretins disgust me."

more...

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/02/BALTUQKOE.DTL

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1 Comments:

Blogger CHOMP said...

We have freedom of speech in this country. That means the Marines, whom I respect totally, have the right to say their piece too. This might be the biggest battle the Marines have ever had!

10:29 AM  

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