CodePink is shuttering its East Bay office on Solano Avenue but anti-war group leaders say the fight to boot the U.S. Marine recruiting center from downtown Berkeley is far from over.
“(The office) is very hard to maintain in this economic climate. Also, I had a 10-year lease and the lease is over and I’m not renewing it. It’s too much of a financial strain,’’ said CodePink’s Zanne Sam Joi, who ran an antique business from the site at 1248 Solano Ave. until the Sept. 11 attacks when she converted it to a CodePink storefront office.
For more than a year, women from CodePink have been picketing weekly in front of the U.S. Marine recruiting center at 64 Shattuck Square in downtown Berkeley. They say the Marines are not welcome in liberal, anti-war Berkeley and it should shut its’ doors.
In January, the Berkeley City Council got involved when they called the U.S. Marines “uninvited and unwelcome intruders” and granted CodePink a permit waiver and a free parking space in front of the Marine center for their weekly protests. The move angered people across the county, who flooded City Hall with 25,000 letters and e-mail.
To counter the CodePink protests, Move America Forward, the nation’s largest pro-troop organizations, members of the U.S. Marines and motorcycle clubs came from across the nation came to Berkeley to back the Marines.
The weekly Wednesday protests, that drew dozens at the height of the controversy, have dwindled to just a few people lately, and critics now believe that shutting the doors on the Solano Avenue office will be the end to their Marine center protests.
“The fact of the matter is they are out of money. CodePink is running red,” said Melanie Morgan, the head of Move America Forward. “They can’t generate the excitement because the election is far more interesting. It really is amusing that they said they would sit there every day until they ran the Marines out of town and yet they are the ones closing their doors.”
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Pauline L. Franklin said the Marines have no plans to leave the Berkeley office.
The center’s lease runs through December 2009, subject to termination if the government cannot provide funding, Franklin has said.
Even without the Albany office, CodePink officials said they will continue to protest the Marines and their recruiting of young people. “We’ve been there and we intend to be there until they leave,” said Joi. “We would like to relocate our offices where they are.”
CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin said the organization will have a better idea of their strategy after next week’s election. “We’ve been putting energy into the election and getting peaceful candidates that have the fortitude to promote peace,” she said.
CodePink is having a going out of business sale from noon until 7 p.m. today and Thursday at the storefront at 1248 Solano Ave., in Albany. The group is selling office furniture, display cabinets, tschotkes, outdoor furniture andf CodePink memorabilia and merchandise.