Council to Reconsider Language Against Marine Recruiting Center

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday February 05, 2008

Posted Tue., Feb. 5—If the Berkeley City Council approves an item on the Feb. 12 council agenda, it will clarify city support for the troops—while continuing to condemn the war—and will rescind the part of the Jan. 29 council item that called the downtown Marine Recruiting Station “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” 

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli is sponsoring the Feb. 12 revision, along with Councilmember Betty Olds.  

Capitelli told the Planet that while he opposes the war, he wants to be clear that the council action does not imply non-support for the troops. 

“My position is that policy makers send those people into harms way,” he said “I want to get them sent home.” 

“We failed to make it clear that while we continue to oppose what we consider an unethical and illegal war in Iraq, at the same time we respect and honor all the brave men and women who are serving or have served in the military,” Capitelli and Olds say in a joint press statement that also states: “We have erred by not adequately differentiating between the war and the warriors.” 

As for telling the marine recruiters they are not welcome, Capitelli said if the recruiters opt to stay, despite the legal demonstrations outside their office, that’s up to them.  

However, Capitelli and Olds say in the press statement: “…the recommendation to inform the Marine Corps recruiting office that they are not welcome in our city, was insulting, hurtful and wrong.”  

“I wish we wouldn’t have Marines anywhere,” Capitelli said. “But they have a legal right to be here.”  

Old agreed. “They do have a right to come,” she said, adding that service personnel should not be condemned: “They have to do what they are told to do.” 

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who, along with Olds, voted against the entire council item Jan. 29, told the Planet, “Laurie and Betty’s item is a step in the right direction.” 

He said he’d like to see the entire council item rescinded, along with an apology to the Marine Corps. The item has “pretty inflammatory stuff,” he said. “People are letting their opposition to the war interfere with their good judgment.” 

If the Olds-Capitelli council item passes the other two parts of the item will remain intact: asking the city attorney to research whether Berkeley’s anti-discrimination laws apply to the Marine Recruiting Center and supporting “residents and organizations such as Code Pink that may volunteer to impede, passively or actively, by nonviolent means, the work of any military recruiting office located in the city of Berkeley.”  

Councilmember Dona Spring told the Planet that she agreed, in part with Capitelli and Olds: “We could have been more diplomatic, politely asking them to leave,” Spring said. However, Spring said a clear statement needs to be made: U.S. policy “is the antithesis of life and liberty. We need to take a strong stand against this military regime that provokes violence, murder and torture. We need to reflect Berkeley values.” 

On Jan. 29, Capitelli, Councilmembers Linda Maio, Max Anderson, Dona Spring, Darryl Moore and Mayor Tom Bates voted for the three-part item. Councilmember Kriss Worthington opposed the section that called the Marines “unwelcome intruders” and supported the other two parts of the item.