Monday, February 11, 2008

A statement of fact on the Berkeley City Council's anti-Marine debacle

The following is a short background statement that I have prepared for the press as part of our intended delivery of the "Boycott Berkeley" petition this Tuesday. I may tweak it as needed, but I think it generally stands as is.

On January 31, 2008, an ad hoc group of US Marine Corps veterans created an online petition in opposition to the January 29th resolutions of the Berkeley City Council that seek to eject a US Marine Corps recruiting station from within Berkeley city limits and grant preferential treatment to a protest group that works to physically impede the Marine Corps in its recruiting mission. As of February 11th, over 5,000 military veterans and citizens from all 50 states have signed this petition supporting an economic boycott against the City of Berkeley and calling upon the U.S. Congress and the California State Legislature to suspend all federal and state payments that go to support any activity conducted by the Berkeley City Council. This call shall remain in force until such time as the Council chooses to rescind its anti-Marine resolutions.

Support for this petition includes both individuals who support the war as well as those who oppose it on the grounds that the City Council's actions are an assault on the Federal Constitution. Article I, Section VII of the Constitution empowers the Congress with the responsibility to raise and support an army, while Article II, Section II empowers the president with the role of commander in chief. The petitioners hold that no local government can claim for itself the power to prevent the national government from exercising these constitutionally enumerated powers. To attack the Constitution the way the Berkeley City Council has is unacceptable, regardless of where one stands on the war. The petitioners hold that when the different levels of our government disagree, it is a matter to take to our courts, not to the streets.

Furthermore, the petitioners hold that the Berkeley City Council's actions are unfair because they attack the Marines for policy decisions they do not make. The armed forces must remain strictly non-political and obey the Constitution and the laws passed by the Congress. The petitioners hold that anything less than complete fidelity on the part of the armed forces is license for disaster.

Contrary to the opinions put forth by the apologists for the Berkeley City Council's actions, the petitioners hold that this conflict is not over a differing interpretation of the freedom of speech or the right to peaceful assembly. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Section II & Section II of the California Constitution each protect the right to peaceful speech and assembly and the petitioners wholeheartedly support these fundamental individual rights. Instead, the petitioners hold that this conflict is over the deliberate and unconscionable actions of a local government that condones lawlessness and seeks to subvert the national government in the name of its own, independent foreign policy.

Thus the message the petitioners seek to convey to the City Council this Tuesday is simple. Whether though ignorance or as part of a willful and deliberate act, the Council's actions are an affront to the fabric of our union and those who protect it. If the Council refuses to correct its errors and fails to refocus its efforts upon insuring impartial and limited government and protecting the rights of free speech and peaceful assembly, it will find itself isolated, defunded and striped of its legislative authority. The petitioners seek to remind the City Council that the choice is theirs.
Updated: 2/11 @ 9:55 ET.


Burgess Laughlin said...

Based on my limited knowledge of the situation, I would say you have done a quite competent job of summarizing the situation.

I assume you are posting this partly as a way of soliciting comments. I have two very minor suggestions:
- The word "to" is missing before the word "subvert" in the last sentence of the next to last paragraph.
- You might delete adjectives such as "grossly" and "utterly." They are emotionally expressive but out of place in a factual summary. Besides, slight understatement makes the issues stand out that much more to rational readers.

Jeff said...

I signed it and I am not a Veteran. Is this a problem? Wouldn't want to get you in any trouble over that nor would I want to unjustly take credit for being one.

Nicholas Provenzo said...

No Problem--all are welcome to sign!

Jeff said...

I hope you have much success with this petition and appreciate all the work you have put into it!

Mel McGuire said...

I found this last night and commented on it under the NoodleFood post "Police Neutrality Concretized". It just adds a bit to what we saw in the video.

Three Chain Themselves to Marine Recruiting Center Doors

"Two Berkeley police officers came by the gathering that had drawn about 15 people by 9:30 a.m. and told the group that they would station a police officer across the street for the demonstrators’ protection. Lt. David Reece said the city supports the demonstrators, but he wanted assurance that there would be no vandalism at the office."

The city protects demonstrators who are using coercion to block entrance to the station but do not protect the right of those who wish to enter. I think it's the city council itself who are taking it to the streets. Maybe "condones lawlessness" could be something like "condones lawlessness, protects the use of coercion by demonstrators, and seeks...".

The inversion of the proper government use of police is something that's particularly troubling to me but your statement is certainly fine as is.