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The Backlash Against Berkeley
Military.com  |  By Kelly Johnson  |  February 08, 2008
If the Marines are no longer welcome in Berkeley, then the city will lose millions in federal funding.

That's the message that Marine Corps supporters are sending Berkeley's city council members if the push to close the Marines' Shattuck Avenue recruiting office continues.

The backlash against Berkeley intensified when an anti-war measure supported by the group Code Pink was approved by the city last week. The measure urged Marine recruiters to leave Berkeley's downtown office.

"Our goal is to have clear zoning regulations for military recruiting and to put citizen pressure to shut down the existing recruiting station that is just blocks from Berkeley College, UC Berkeley, and Berkeley High School," according to Code Pink's website.

If city council members don't rescind this resolution, lawmakers including Assemblyman Guy Houston (R-San Ramon) will introduce legislation that will strip more than $3.3 million in transportation funding away from Berkeley.

Houston's proposed measure is similar to the Semper Fi Act of 2008 -- authored by several Republican senators -- that proposes that more than $2 million dollars in federal funding for the city be rescinded and transferred to the Marine Corps.

"I cannot stand by and do nothing while the City of Berkeley declares war on the United States Marine Corps," said Houston in a press release.

"The Marines, and all of our branches of the military, deserve the honor of our elected officials, not their scorn," he added.

In an effort to calm tensions between Republican lawmakers and the city, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates released a statement that attempted to clarify the city's position on the Marines recruiting center.

"Let me be absolutely clear that this is not about the men and women who are serving our country in our armed forces. I am a retired U.S. Army captain and I respect the choice of those who are serving our country.

"I also understand that the language proposed to the council did not adequately differentiate our respect and support for those serving in the armed forces and our opposition to the Iraq war policy. I will be working with the council to clarify that language at our next meeting."

Code Pink and other anti-war protestors plan to continue to push for the relocation of the Marine Recruiting center, by collecting 5,000 signatures from Berkeley voters to show the Marines that they are "not welcome in the city."

However, a Marine Corps spokesman told CNN that there are no plans to relocate the Marines' recruiting office.

(If you support the Semper Fi Act and want your state representative to take action, visit Military.com's Legislative center.)

Learn more about Marine Corps service opportunities.

 

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