Sunday, March 23, 2008

Supporting our Marines in Berkley, CA

Berkeley hosted a decidedly different kind of protest today when about 400 flag-waving, leather-clad, pro-troops bikers roared into town to show their support for an often besieged Marine recruiting center in the city.

“I’m here because I support my Marines,” said Steve Bosshard, a retired San Francisco police officer who came from Santa Rosa. “I don’t like what Berkeley’s done. They don’t realize the effect it has on the troops.”

The center was criticized by the Berkeley city council and is often the target of protests.

Today’s demonstrators, most of whom are military veterans, said they were protesting the Berkeley city council decision in February to waive the amplified-sound permit fees and provide reserved parking in front of the Marines’ office for Code Pink, an anti-war group that stages protests at the recruiting center.

The Marine supporters gathered at the recruiting station and sang the Marine Corps hymn and national anthem, revved their motorcycles and waved flags. A small contingent from Code Pink stood on the fringes, having mostly peaceful conversations with their pro-Marine counterparts.

The pro-Marine demonstrators said they plan to boycott Berkeley businesses until the council is recalled, apologizes or grants free permits to a pro-troop group.

The group that organized today’s protest, Eagles Up, had to pay for their permit.

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