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BROUHAHA IN BERKELEY

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No apology offered to Marine Corps

Have you been following the story of the city council in Berkeley, Calif., and how it told Marine Corps recruiters they were no longer welcome? That they don't belong in Berkeley? Well, the council and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates have done some back-pedaling, explaining they support our troops but oppose the war in Iraq. More recently, on Feb. 12, protesters filled the streets in front of Berkeley City Hall. At its peak, about 2,000 demonstrators gathered, with Marine Corps supporters having a slight edge over "anti-recruiter" demonstrators.

"The demonstrations were for the most part calm," said John Raughter, director of communications for The American Legion, "with occasional shouting matches breaking out between vocal members of both sides." A substantial police force kept violence at bay, although a few scufflers were arrested.

Dick Seavey, a Legionnaire from Post 246 in Danville, Calif., and his wife Georgeanne were two of the many people who showed up at city hall to support our troops. "We have a son in Iraq," Seavey said. "We saw what was going on, and we wanted to be here." The Seaveys think the Berkeley City Council's attempt to make a political statement was badly handled. "You don't penalize the Marine recruiters," Seavey said. "Most of the kids out here demonstrating against the Marines don't know what they're doing."

As the protest went on in the streets, the city council convened indoors. When the matter of Marine recruiters came up, several people had something to say, including this statement from Kevin Graves: "I am the proud father of Spec. Joseph A. Graves, who was killed in Iraq on July 25, 2006. He died in honor. He volunteered. Our military are not coerced, they are not lied to, and they are not deceived ... You owe the military an apology."

The city council voted 7-2 against sending a letter to the recruiting office asking them to leave town. But the council failed to apologize to the Marine Corps, as requested by American Legion National Commander Marty Conatser. Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, a former Army officer, tried to soften things a bit: "We have attempted to distinguish, maybe not successfully, between the people in the military and the recruiting, which is a problem for us because we don't support the war."

source www.legion.org

 

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