Sunday, February 17, 2008

Shutting Down the Military Recruiters in Berkeley CA 2-12-08

Photo by Felix Barrett

Shutting Down Marine Recruiters in Berkeley- No Support for an Illegitimate War!

Audio, Photo, Video here at

KPFA RADIO interview with high school students 2-12

VIDEO interviews with Berkeley residents

Tuesday night, February 12, the Berkeley City Council voted not to send a letter to the Marine Corps telling them their new recruiters, near Berkeley High School, "is not welcome in the city, and if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as uninvited and unwelcome intruders." The Council had received 24,000 messages, reportedly mostly favorable to their stand, but also a great storm of protest on right-wing blogs. Republican politicians in California, and US Senators threatened to take away funds for education and transportation projects in Berkeley, and vilified the Council for being against the war. The Council refused to apologize to the Marines, however, and reaffirmed its stand against the Iraq war and occupation.

Starting at 7 PM Monday February 11, an emergency 24 hour vigil called by Code Pink, numbering close to a hundred people from several progressive organizations, encamped on the City Hall lawn to support the Berkeley City Council resolution to oust the Marine Corps recruiting station, and to counter a right-wing, pro-war mobilization that had been called for on Tuesday at 5 AM.

Later that morning, as the crowds on both sides grew, and after a few initial and sharp skirmishes, it became increasingly clear that the anti-war side was gaining momentum and the upper hand.

Then, just before noon, the scene took a dramatic turn, as hundreds and hundreds of orange-clad students took the lead and poured out of Berkeley High and into the park across the street, joining dozens of their classmates who had already been confronting the pro-war crowd all morning. Meanwhile, a wide variety of people of conscience numbering in the hundreds, converged at the encampment to declare their support for the Berkeley City Council's courageous stand against the Marine Corps recruiting station, and to further declare their determination to shut it down.

On the other side of the street, hundreds of pro-war rightwingers were supported by formations of Berkeley riot squad police who started in by roughing up the youth and students - some as young as 12 years old. Over the course of the afternoon, the police would display increasing belligerence, aggressively jabbing their batons at people, and shoving youth and others aside, or to the ground – including at one point, some photographers and a local news cameraman. Four people – 3 of them minors – were grabbed and arrested.

Overall though, for the better part of 20 hours, the loud - and vicious - reactionaries were decisively outnumbered by the youth, veterans, ***activists from many groups, as well as a good number of Berkeley residents who energetically chanted:

“What are they recruiting for? “Murder, rape, torture, war!”
“Stop the torture, stop the war! That is what we're standing for!”

If you were a part of this beautiful day, we want to know about your experiences, your thoughts . . . and your pictures and your videos. We invite you to email any of this to us at:

***Code Pink, A.N.S.W.E.R., Courage to Resist, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the ACLU, and many others . . .

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