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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Anti-War
Battle of Berkeley Continues -- Taking on Pro-War Bikers at the Marine Recruiting Station
On June 21, about 200 pro-war/pro-military bikers invaded Berkeley to demonstrate in support of the Marine recruiting station in downtown Berkeley. They were met by about 100 demonstrators chanting, "Murder, Rape, Torture, War – That's What They're Recruiting For" and carrying pictures of Iraqi civilians maimed at the hands of U.S. troops. Another sign said that torture is not a "career choice." By taking these reactionaries head on the protesters made it clear that there is no “honor” in fighting an illegal immoral war and that they would not allow fascist thugs gunning motorcycle engines and shouting “USA NUMBER ONE” to become the new norm – in downtown Berkeley or anywhere else!
The Berkeley Marine recruiting station has been a target of anti-war resistance by protesters from World Can't Wait and Code Pink who say that the recruiters are unwelcome in Berkeley and need to be driven out of Berkeley and communities nationwide.
In February, the two sides faced off in the streets of Berkeley with hundreds of high school students courageously going in the face of the pro-Iraq War bikers and goons. These actions sparked protests nationwide against military recruiters. This summer activists with World Can't Wait are mounting a political campaign to drive military recruiters out of Berkeley and other communities.
Recently Ron Kovic, a Vietnam veteran whose combat injuries left him paraplegic, and author of one of the 60’s best memoirs, “Born On the Fourth Of July” sent an open letter in support of the Berkeley anti-recruiting actions:
"As a former United States Marine Corp Sergeant who was shot and paralyzed from my mid-chest down during my second tour of duty in Vietnam on January, 20, 1968, I am sending my complete support and admiration to all those now involved in the courageous struggle to stop military recruitment in Berkeley. Not since the Vietnam War protests of the late sixties has there been a cause more just than the one you are now engaged in.
"Who knows better the deep immorality and deception of military recruiters than those of us who decades ago entered those same recruiting offices with our fathers believing in our hearts that we were being told the truth, only to discover we had been deceived and terribly betrayed.
"Many of us paid for that deceit with our lives, years of suffering and bodies and minds that were never to be the same again. If only someone had warned us, if only someone would have had the courage to speak out against the madness that we were being led into, if only someone could have protected us from the recruiters whose only wish was to make their quota, send us to boot camp, and hide from us the dark secret of the nightmare which awaited us all.
Read the full statement at http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4689&Itemid=69
After talking with others at the protest, I think a more accurate estimate of the numbers was about 100 pro-war/bikers and about 60 anti-war.