Code Pink Finds Marine Recruiters In Berkeley - Protests Begin
The recruiting station, in a storefront at Shattuck and University avenues, opened in January to recruit young men and women from the northern half of the Bay Area to the Marine Corps officer training school in Quantico, Va.
But it wasn't until last week that the first protesters arrived. Code Pink and Grandmothers Against the War staged a peaceful, low-key rally outside the station and repeated the action Wednesday.
"We're going to be here every Wednesday. We need to protect our children," said Zanne Joi, a spokeswoman for the Code Pink activist group. "We don't want this in our city - we're horrified they've come to Berkeley."
The station, which relocated from Alameda, is between Berkeley High and UC Berkeley. Last school year, 29 men and women were recruited at the two stations, said Capt. Richard Lund. He said he did not know how that compares with other recruiting stations.
"We're getting more people than you may think in the Bay Area," he said. "We've certainly been busy."
Lund said he was expecting protesters to come out when his office moved to Berkeley.
"It's been pretty peaceful," Lund said. "It's just like any other city. I was kind of surprised."
In recent months, the City Council has approved resolutions opposing the war, including one that supports prosecution of former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for war crimes.
Joi said Code Pink, a group spawned by Bay Area peace activists, didn't even discover the recruiting station until about a week ago and immediately launched the first protest. Few City Hall staffers knew it was there, either.
The military had worse luck at Berkeley High, where it pressured administrators for years to comply with a federal law allowing recruiters access to students' names and contact information.
Berkeley High's policy was to not turn over students' names unless the students requested that their names be released. The Pentagon threatened to withdraw federal funding for the school unless administrators reversed the policy and turned over all the names, only omitting the names of students who opted out in writing.
The school became the last in the United States to comply with the law when it changed its policy in the spring.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, students could walk into the recruiting office unhindered by sidewalk protesters. But that may be changing.
On Wednesday, protesters clad in pink hats and dresses engaged a few young men in civil but earnest hourlong discussions about the war.
Passing motorists honked and waved in support throughout the day, and the atmosphere was lively and festive. Protesters waved pink banners and waved at passers-by.
Lund said the protesters so far have been cordial and polite, happily exercising their right to free speech.
Code Pink is bringing in other peace groups to join the protest, with demonstrators expected to be in front of the station from when it opens at 8 a.m. until doors close at 4:30 p.m.
"We're not going to leave until they leave Berkeley," Joi said.
E-mail Carolyn Jones at email@example.com.
© 2007 The San Francisco Chronicle