Code Pink: In Berkeley Until the Marines Leave

July 7, 2008 - 8:24 PM

(CNSNews.com) - As pro-war, flag-waving counter-protesters set up camp in Berkeley, Calif., on Monday, an anti-war activist told Cybercast News Service that her organization intended to demonstrate against the city's Marine recruitment center until it was abandoned.

"We're staying here until the Marines decide to respect the people of Berkeley and what we want in our city," Zanne Joi, a spokesperson for the anti-war group Code Pink, said in an interview. "We're a city of peace. We've always voted against this war, as a council and as a people."

Code Pink has been holding regular demonstrations in front of the recruitment center since October, with activities as diverse as dancing, yoga, juggling lessons, and public kissing meant to show opposition to the Marines, according to Joi.

The organization has dubbed its protests "How Berkeley Can You Be?" to show a contrast between the military's traditions and their city's counterculture.

Joi said protesters camped in front of the recruitment center number, on average, between 15 and 30 each day, and as high as 200.

Meanwhile, motor-bikers from the pro-military group Eagles Up descended on Berkeley on Saturday to counter-protest with American flags in hand.

The new arrivals verbally clashed with Code Pink activists, although confrontations were reportedly peaceful and respectful.

Joi said her organization appointed diplomats to converse with Eagles Up members, although many of the bikers were demanding that Code Pink leave Berkeley altogether.

"It felt like the same kind of disrespect for the people of Berkeley when they came to our city as when the Marines came ... that they feel like we don't have the right to decide what happens in our city," she said.

Eagles Up also had the support of the pro-troops organization Move America Forward, which is chaired by former California radio personality Melanie Morgan.

"We encourage all American patriots to stand with Eagles Up and the Marines," she said. "I hope to see Move America Forward's supporters at the muster to show our love and support for our troops."

The group intends to facilitate a boycott of Berkeley businesses until the city withdraws its support for the protesters. Berkeley's Marine recruiters have been criticized by the city council, and Code Pink activists have been provided with a free parking permit in front of the recruitment center. Noise violation fees have also been waived for the demonstrators.

But Code Pink's tenacity may be paying off. According to Joi, the recruitment center has allegedly shut down many times during normal operating hours, and some days the recruiters never arrived for work.

Although they were reportedly respectful to the protesters at first, the Marines have grown increasingly curt with the activists who frequently attempt to engage them in conversation.

The United States Marines Corps could not confirm any of these claims.

Many conservative bloggers have criticized Code Pink for showing contempt for the military and violating the rights of Berkeley's military recruiters, a criticism that Joi rejects.

"[The Marines] don't have as much right to be here as I do. It's not about the Marines' rights," she said.

"We think we have a lot of rights in this country. We used to have the right to enslave people. We have the right to tell women they don't have choice. We think we have a right to occupy Iraq! What about the right of the Iraq people to live without Marines attacking them and other military?" Joi added.

Eagles Up did not return phone calls for comment.

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