Berkeley retreats from Marine Corps

The City Council retracts letter dubbing the Marines "unwanted intruders."

Published February 13, 2008 5:47PM (EST)

After a day of raucous protests by veterans and antiwar activists, the Berkeley City Council admitted it had made a mistake by calling the U.S. Marine Corps "unwanted intruders" in this liberal city.

"To err is human but to really screw up it takes the Berkeley City Council," said council member Gordon Wozniak. "We failed our city. We embarrassed our city," according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The City Council had received thousands of outraged e-mails from military supporters and conservatives around the country, led by Move America Forward, after it wrote a letter condemning the Marine recruiting center, near the UC-Berkeley campus. Six Republican U.S. senators had even vowed to cut federal funding for several Berkeley programs, such as Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Foundation, which provides school lunches at Berkeley's public schools.

Yet, at Tuesday night's meeting, while repudiating its earlier words against the Marines, the Berkeley City Council stopped short of voting to issue a public apology for attacking them. Instead, members of the council said that they had been wrong to go after the Marines instead of the war in Iraq.

"We do not want to ostracize our troops," said council member Linda Maio. "They are our sons and our daughters. We care about them. We love them and we want to bring them home."

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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