Rumors Circulate About Marines Leaving Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 01, 2008

Rumors started circulating around 7 p.m. Monday that the Marine Recruiting Center at 64 Shattuck Square had reached an agreement with their landlord Sasha Shamszad and that they would be backing out of Berkeley. These rumors, complete with what purported to be quotes from Shamszad and Michael Applegate, director of the Marine Manpower Plans and Policy Division, were posted on web sites maintained by Code Pink and the nonpartisan coalition group AfterDowningStreet.org, among others.  

Some observers speculated that the news might be an April Fool’s Day joke, since today is April 1. 

Last year, as an April Fool’s Day joke, Code Pink announced that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had invited the group for tea after they had camped outside her house for a few weeks trying to speak to her.  

Callers to the Code Pink office were greeted by a recorded message which said: 

“We have breaking news. We just heard that the landlord and the Marine Recruiting Center have come to an agreement about the marines leaving Berkeley and they are going to announce it tomorrow, Tuesday, at noon, in front of the Marine Recruiting Center. So come out and hear what the landlord and the marines have worked out. Peace, Love and War.” 

Code Pink’s protest against the existence of the Marine Recruiting Center since September has made national headlines over the past few months. 

When contacted by the Planet at around 7:15 p.m. Monday, Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he had not received any information about the marines leaving Berkeley. 

“I was contacted by [television] media about half an hour ago about this but I don’t know anything about it,” he said. 

“I am just so thrilled and excited,” Code Pink spokesperson Zanne Zoi told the Planet in a telephone interview. 

“I am going to be there tomorrow with flowers and champagne. I could weep. We have been asking the Marines to respect the values of the citizens of Berkeley for a long time.” 

Zoi said Code Pink had received a press release informing them about the announcement. 

“The landlord said that the presence of the marines was sparking a controversy and affecting neighboring businesses. He said that it was costing the city a lot of money. He may have offered to buy them out. I think the marines were having a hard time recruiting people. I don’t care why they are doing it. I am just happy they are doing it.” 

Shamszad and Marine Recruiting Center Director Capt. Richard Lund could not be reached for comment before press time Monday.  

For updates on this story, check www.berkeleydailyplanet.com.