Code Pink took to the streets of Berkeley Wednesday to try to drive the U.S. Marine Recruitment Center out of the city.
Donning pink hats, T-shirts and badges, a group of 10 braved rush-hour traffic on Shattuck Avenue to protest against the recruitment office located at 64 Shattuck Square.
“If there are to be no wars, there can be no warriors,” said Dianne Budd, one of the organizers.
“We found out a few days ago and decided to make their lives miserable,” she said, pinning up “RECRUITERS LIE, CHILDREN DIE” posters on the office windows. “We want people to know that it’s here and we want to shut them down. If people had been in there we were ready to hand out information about GI rights. We just want to speak the truth.”
Budd said that the group had planned the demonstration after noticing the office on the block, and its proximity to UC Berkeley and Berkeley High School.
The recruitment office was closed when the Planet reached the site at 5 p.m. Wednesday and no one was available for comment before press time.
According to Shahin, owner of the Z&S salon located next door, the recruitment center has been there since January.
“I have seen people coming here during the day five days a week,” she said. “It’s not a lot but they go in and out and some have uniforms.”
As Budd and her fellow organizers held a pink banner with “No military predators in our town” written on it, hundreds of cars, buses and trucks honked their support and waved.
“It’s pretty brazen to put it up here,” said disabled people’s activist Dan McMullen as he passed by.
“I think they are wasting their time. Not too many people are going to sign up.”
Mental Health commissioner Michael Diehl reminisced about friends who were Vietnam vets.
“They never came back from the war the same,” he said looking at the posters. “I guess the governement is building up the pressure. A couple of months ago the feds ordered Berkeley High to follow their opt-out policy. They are trying hard to recruit people.”
Berkeley High was recently threatened with federal-fund cuts unless they followed the federal opt-out policy, which allows the military to access students’ personal information for recruitment purposes unless they deliberately opt out of the process.
Marge Lasky, a member of Grandmothers Against the War, said she had no idea that the office was there.
“I am pretty shocked it’s here,” she said. “Why would the marines come into the belly of the beast? Either they are really desperate for recruitment or they think they can get people by being near Berkeley High and the university.”
Kali Steel from Code Pink said the group would protest in front of the office every Wednesday until it was shut down.
“This is exactly where our kids hang out,” she said. “We don’t want military recruiters in Berkeley.”
“Keep it up,” said a lady in a silver Toyota. “We love what you do.”
No one came to drag the protesters away as they stood waving banners and talking for almost two hours.
“It’s my first-amendment right,” Budd said smiling. “Who’s going to stop me?”
Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee,
Dianne Budd, a Code Pink organizer, pins up a poster in front of the Marine Recruiting Center on Shattuck Avenue Wednesday to protest its existence.