Berkeley City Council to consider softening its anti-Marine recruitment stance with new vote

Eds: Berkeley City Council holds its meeting at 10 p.m. EST.

By MICHELLE LOCKE

Associated Press Writer

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) -- Officials in this liberal city may soften their anti-recruitment stance toward the U.S. Marines in the face of widespread criticism.

The Berkeley City Council drew a deluge of disapproval nationwide in January when it voted to advise the Marines that their downtown recruitment office was not welcome and that they would be considered "uninvited and unwelcome intruders" if they chose to stay.

On Tuesday, the council was scheduled to consider a second resolution put forward by two council members that would rescind the letter and draw a line between opposing the war in Iraq and "our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces."

The recruiting office opened in Berkeley in late 2006. It operated quietly until four months ago when the anti-war group Code Pink began holding regular protests.

Dozens of protesters demonstrated outside City Hall hours ahead of the debate.

Pro-troop group Move America Forward sponsored one rally, holding signs that said "Stop Bashing Our Boys." On the other side, anti-war group Code Pink held bouquets of flowers and waved signs saying "Peace Now" and "Bring Our Troops Home."

"This is very personal," said Lonnie Piet, of Sacramento, who joined Move America Forward's protest. Piet, whose son is a Marine, said he wants a personal apology from council members and Code Pink. "The Marines have the right to recruit anyone, anywhere," Piet said.

"We want to ask the Marines to not recruit in our community. The majority of citizens here are fervently against the war," said Code Pink protester Cynthia Papermaster, who has lived in Berkeley since 1965. "We're not against the Marines, but against what they're recruited to do."

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On the Net:

Move America Forward: http://www.moveamericaforward.org

Code Pink: http://www.codepink4peace.org