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Mayor Bates Comes to Marines Recruiting Station

January 9, 2008
Berkeley, CA

In a new development in the four-month campaign to shut down the Marines Officer Recruiting Station in downtown Berkeley, Mayor Tom Bates met with about 20 members of Bay Area CODEPINK, heard their arguments for closing the station, and promised to take several steps in support of the campaign.

After putting on a pink beret from well-known activist Toby “Camp Pelosi” Blome, the university town mayor declared that he found the presence of the recruiting station “outrageous” and a “manifestation of war.” Bates further stated that “I believe firmly that we should get out of Iraq” and reiterated his long-standing opposition to the war and occupation.

After much back-and-forth on issues relating to closing the station, Mayor Bates agreed to take four actions: (1) to meet with the owner of the property and ask him to terminate the Marines’ lease; (2) to talk with a Marines officer higher in the chain of command; (3) to work, in collaboration with the city’s legal department and with CODEPINK’s attorney and others on a city zoning initiative “that will hold up” legally and have a tangible result; and (4) to contact Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office to get them involved in discussions with the Marines.

After the meeting with the mayor, a group of 8 CODEPINKERS stayed on to have a long discussion with a potential recruit, an engineering student at UC Berkeley. We gave him information about Iraq Veterans against the War and Courage to Resist. College professor and poet Brenda Hillman summed up our feelings: “I don’t want to see your name on the list [of the dead.] It’s a stupid victimization.”

The counter-recruitment campaign continues, Monday through Friday, with a full schedule. Bay Area CODEPINK will have a follow-up meeting in the mayor’s office next Thursday, and a major action is planned on January 31.