February 1, 2008


Statement from Mayor Tom Bates on the Berkeley Marine Recruiting Center

I have heard from people all over the country regarding the action taken by the Berkeley City Council regarding 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 former U.S. Army Captain and I respect the choice of those who are serving our country.

However, this community strongly opposes the war in Iraq and the foreign policy of the current administration.  I believed from the beginning that this was an unjust, illegal, and immoral war of choice.

A year ago, the U.S. Marines established a recruiting office within a few blocks of our local high school, community college and university.  Since then, community members who oppose the war in Iraq have been exercising their free speech in protesting the presence of the Marine recruiters.  Pro-war protestors have also attended to exercise their free speech rights.

On January 29th, the Berkeley City Council took action to waive the permit fee for anti-war protestors one afternoon a week.  Any group, whether pro- or anti- war, can obtain such a permit.  In addition, the City Council indicated its desire for the Marine recruiting station, as a visible symbol of the war, to be relocated.

I understand that there are people across the country that may not agree with this action but it is the Berkeley City Council's responsibility to represent the will of the people of Berkeley.

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.

I hope that our country will end the war in Iraq soon and bring our troops home safely.  We are truly fortunate to live in a country that can tolerate and accept a range of views and opinions.

-- Mayor Tom Bates