Activist groups all over America are responding to a recent action by a group of patriots from the World Can’t Wait San Francisco chapter.
Members from the chapter recently chained themselves to the door of a recruitment center, which led the Berkeley City Council, according to the San Jose Mercury News, to vote 8-1 last Tuesday. [*previously they had held a public demonstration to protest waterboarding outside the recruitment center]
The 8-1 vote meant that the Marines’ downtown recruiting station was not welcome and if recruiters chose to stay, they would do so as uninvited and unwelcome guests. The council also explored the enforcement of a city anti-discrimination law that would focus on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
But here’s the real kicker. The council also voted 8-1 to give protest group Code Pink a parking space in front of the recruiting office once a week for six months and a free sound permit for protesting once a week.
The council decision resulted in the Semper Fi Act of 2008 which would remove earmarks and federal funding to Berekeley projects like funding for school lunches. Those sponsoring the bill include but are not limited to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana).
The statement issued by DeMint read:
“Berkeley needs to learn that their actions have consequences,” DeMint said in a statement. “Patriotic American taxpayers won’t sit quietly while Berkeley insults our brave Marines and tries to run them out of town. Berkeley City Council members have shown complete ingratitude to our military and their families, and the city doesn’t deserve a single dime of special pet project handouts.”
That then led to the mayor of Berkeley saying, “the council’s declaration was a symbolic act against the war in Iraq, not against the “men and women who serve in the Marines or any other armed force.”
Since then, the media has been all over this and not covering the truth behind this action, which is that it was a group of citizens protesting against this illegal war who decided that if you want to stop an illegal war you convince people to stop signing up for it and it will sooner or later have to end.
And for the first time, this action was different than the weekly protest regularly held because the people of the San Francisco chapter who chained themselves were willing to be arrested to make a bold statement that this war must be ended.
Since being arrested and facing 40 police members in military uniform blocking off the street so the people of Berkeley could not see what they were about to do when they arrested three quiet and calm activists, people have been stating that they are willing to be arrested unlike previous actions before.
In response to the media response to the blocking of the recruitment center and the response in the Senate to it, high schools and colleges all over the nation and Americans affiliated with World Can’t Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Code Pink, SDS, National Council of Churches, etc. are getting together next Friday, February 15th to show their support for what the people of Berkeley and its city council did.
Presidential candidate Mike Gravel at a Super Tuesday event with World Can’t Wait in Berkeley said he will put his name on and endorse any organized event that is run by the organizers looking to protest more recruitment of Americans to be sent to fight in this illegal war. (Mike Gravel helped end the Vietnam War by filibustering funding for it while it was being illegally carried out so he has experience in ending illegal wars.)
New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, and other major cities are joining with Berkeley and holding actions in front of recruitment centers and even in new recruitment centers. New York activists plan to protest a new recruitment center in Harlem.
But before this day of action takes place, the city council in Berkeley will be voting again on the statement they made on the marine center and deciding whether to stand by it or not.
Activists in and around Berkeley are going to hold a 24-hour vigil from 7 pm Monday to 7 pm Tuesday and then go to the city council meeting. They are asking people near Berkeley to mobilize and show up to the meeting and tell the council how this illegal war really makes them feel.