dispatch from the u.s. peace movement: showdown in berkeley

From Courage to Resist:
For months, the anti-war women's group CodePink staged near-daily protests outside of a Marine recruiting station in downtown Berkeley, California. These gatherings became a part of the local landscape. However, vigil-as-usual ended when the Berkeley City Council voted to officially endorse these ongoing protests and to send a letter to the Marine recruiters asking them to leave town. Right-wing radio rallied their listeners to "punish" the city, and anti-military recruiting advocates rallied to defend the council's actions.

National right-wing groups such as Move America Forward and their media outlets attacked the council vote. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) and five other Republican senators moved to introduce the "Semper Fi Act" that would cut off over $2 million in federal funds to Berkeley, including a public school lunch program. A Republican State Assemblyman pledged to try to deny Berkeley over $3 million in state funds for road repairs. While these moves have little chance of succeeding, they effectively placed the council on notice that "the powers that be" were not happy.

A showdown of epic proportions (even for Berkeley) ensued around Berkeley City Hall February 12. With out-of-town pro-war individuals descending on Berkeley to intimidate the City Council for its anti-war position, Courage to Resist joined CodePink, ANSWER Coalition, World Can't Wait, Veterans for Peace and other community groups to mobilize over a thousand people to support the council's opposition to the Iraq War and military recruiting—and continue the struggle to oppose military recruiting in our community. Knowing that pro-war, pro-recruiting people intended to begin their rally before dawn, anti-war groups set up a 24-hour encampment on the City Hall lawn beginning the night before.

Continue the whole story here at Courage To Resist, including photos.

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