‘Berkeley Businesses for Peace’

Berkeley business owners including Anna De Leon of Anna’s Jazz Island; Carolyn Gravely of the Global Exchange Store; Paul Chin of La Pena Cultural Center; Andrea Ali of Guerilla Café; and Russell Bass of Café de la Paz are holding a news conference tomorrow, Thursday, April 3, to launch a new association called Berkeley Businesses for Peace.

In a news release, they say they intend to “support the city’s mandate to resolve disputes through diplomacy, not war. With national attacks on Berkeley, including by pro-war forces calling for a boycott of the city, businesses are coming together to reaffirm their pride in Berkeley as a City for Peace. The association is being launched by over 30 businesses, ranging from restaurants and cafes to book stores and copy centers.”

The antiwar groups which have caused a national ruckus by protesting the city’s U.S. Marine Corps recruiting center in recent months are behind this. Noticing that the group’s new Web site displays in Internet Explorer as “CODEPINK: businessesforpeace.org,” I checked the site’s registration — it’s registered to CODEPINK cofounder Jodie Evans of Venice, Calif. And the news release was sent out by a staffer at Global Exchange, the human-rights watchdog agency cofounded by CODEPINK cofounder Medea Benjamin.

The release says association members will be listed on the Web site, receive window decals, and be included in special “Buy Berkeley” days plus a “Summer of Hope festival” that will take place in Berkeley this July.

Guerilla Cafe’s Ali said she was born and raised in Berkeley, “and I have always been proud that Berkeley is on the forefront of progressive change from recycling to opposition to war. Also, my father was born in Iraq and I have many family members there, so I have a very personal reason to want to see an end to the war.”

Said the Global Exchange store’s Gravely: “I think peace starts from within, both personally and within the local community. So we, as businesses, need to come together to strengthen our community and then spread our model to the rest of country.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.