Eamon Kelly stood, a cane holding his battered body on one side, and his mother propping up the other.
The young Marine, who had major back surgery only days earlier, needed to make a stand against the Berkeley City Council, which had denigrated the Marines, calling them “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.”
After the Berkeley actions ignited a national uproar, members of the City Council responded by claiming not to have read the fine print of the resolutions they had passed. But their words reveal the dishonesty in their claims.
Mayor Tom Bates has been hard-pressed to plead ignorance when he declared to the city council and the media alike:
“I’ve been working with Code Pink, and I believe in their cause and I believe that what they’re doing is the right thing, they are bringing maximum pressure to bear on the whole question of the Marines being in Berkeley, they don’t belong here, they shouldn’t have come here and they should leave.”
Marine Eamon Kelly was a living symbol of the national outrage against the Berkeley City Council, and showcased the honor, character and determination that runs abundant among our military men and women. That honor and character appear to be absent from most members of the Berkeley council.
Kelly’s physical pain was intense, yet he refused to leave the pro-military demonstration that was organized by Move America Forward to protest the actions of the Berkeley City Council. After standing in support of the Marines throughout the day and night he was too weak to speak before the City Council when he was finally afforded the opportunity at about 11:00 PM at night. Vietnam veterans offered to carry him into the chambers, past the radical anti-war protesters in pink who taunted those supporting the Marines.
“I can’t do it,” Kelly said. “I just have to listen to them.”
A medic from the Vietnam War told the young Marine it was time for him to go home. He was afraid shock might set in as the pain savaged Kelly.
“The people with whom we gathered asked Eamon to go into city hall and speak, but by this time his head was hanging down, and I was afraid he was going to collapse,” said Elizabeth Kelly. “By now I was struggling to hold him up.”
The standoff between pro-troop folks and anti-war anarchists closed down a part of Berkeley on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, folks from across the United States sent almost 30,000 emails to the City Council; with the tally running 15 to 1 against the council’s shameful actions. Move America Forward also collected over 23,000 signatures on a petition condemning Berkeley’s actions.
Thousands of Marine supporters and anti-war activists clashed in Martin Luther King Park, across from the City Council chambers. Move America Forward (MAF) had permits for the space, but Code Pink and their supporters invaded the space and attacked patriots with skateboards, signs, rocks, and bullhorns.
Police made no arrests of the aggressors early on and stood by as the attacks continued. Anarchy reigned. Multiple pleas from MAF for police protection went unanswered. Even the California Highway Patrol refused to help.
Anti-war protesters set a flag on fire that also burned a city sign that said “Peace Wall.” Two bikes, one of a child, also burned in the fire. The “peace” protesters stole flags from patriots and then set them aflame.
Early Wednesday morning after hours of fighting, screaming and flag burning by the anti-war side, the council agreed to rescind its request for the city manager’s office to send the offending letter calling the Marines “intruders.”
But the council refused to apologize to the Marines, or to rescind its gifts of public funds to a special interest group, Code Pink, which has given over $600,000 in aid to the families of Islamic terrorists. The group will continue to harass Marine recruiters in Berkeley, and they will do so with both the blessing and encouragement of the Berkeley City Council.
Council members Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak were the sole shining lights among the council. Despite their opposition to the war in Iraq, they recognized that the council had wrongly chosen to attack not a policy, but the people who put on the uniform of the United States military. Olds and Wozniak pleaded with their fellow council members to support them in a resolution that would apologize to the Marines and others for the brouhaha that got worldwide media attention.
“We insulted the Marines and they deserve an apology,” Wozniak said. “At this point, the issue is not the war. The issue is what the Berkeley City Council did. We failed our city.”
The behavior of both city officials and far-left radicals stunned and hurt veterans. Vietnam veteran Rod Ferroggiaro of Fairfield, Calif., couldn’t believe what he saw in Berkeley on Tuesday.
“Facing this group was an assortment of old hippies dressed in pink reliving the antiwar years of the sixties – the same ones who spat on us when I returned to California from my first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965,” Ferroggiaro said. “The frightening people were the young . . . dressed in black shirts with orange bandanas. They were cursing and running into Blue Star moms and veterans with skateboards.
“They would get face to face with an older man or woman and chest-bump them trying to provoke an altercation. I saw one rip an American flag from a 46-year-old Blue Star mom and later set it on fire,” he said. “This was all witnessed by the Berkeley police, who did nothing to stop these radicals. Later I learned that they were Berkeley High School students who were brought there by their teachers.”
There will be no apologies to Marine Eamon Kelly or Vietnam veteran Rob Ferroggiaro, but across the nation reasonable Americans are letting it be known that they are not alone in their protests against the Berkeley council.
Lawmakers at the state and federal level are pushing legislation to take more than $5 million in earmarks for Berkeley. Groups around the country are boycotting Berkeley, and businesspeople have said they will close shops or refuse doing business in that liberal city.
“The action by the Berkeley City Council indicates that they have a disdain for and do not appreciate Marines for what they do and have done for this country, our democracy, and our freedoms,” said Rep. John Campbell, who is introducing the Semper Fi Act in the U.S. house.
“If they have so little respect and understanding of that, there is no reason for the rest of us, outside the city of Berkeley, to subsidize their actions with our taxpayer funds,” Campbell said Thursday.
California Assemblyman Guy Houston has also introduced legislation that would strip Berkeley of millions of dollars of state transportation funds since the city has given the parking space in front of the Marine Recruiting Station to Code Pink with the request that the Marxist organization use it to “impede… the work of any military recruiting office located in the City of Berkeley.”
As people left the pro-military rallies outside the City Council chambers late Tuesday and early Wednesday, one thing was clear: Berkeley is no longer the home of liberals who honor and protest the First Amendment. It is now a city that embraces fascism that allows radicals to suppress the free speech of those with whom they disagree, even those who have died to give America her freedoms.
“Driving home on Hwy 80 I pulled off on an exit, walked away from my truck and wept,” Vietnam veteran Ferroggiaro said. “I really do not know why. But as I watched those thousands of cars and trucks that passed by, I knew that most never knew what was happening in Berkeley — and most more than likely did not care. I also thought back 40 plus years and wondered if we have gained anything in this country.”