CAMP BERKELEY: FINAL THOUGHTS
Move America Forward has posted a comprehensive report on the activities from Tuesday's protest in Berkeley. Also, according to Andrea Shea-King, a Florida congressman is not yet through with the City of Berkeley, or similar cities. She reports to me by phone that the congressman will be introducing legislation regarding military recruitment. Andrea is contacting the congressman for an interview tonight. Check back for an update. UPDATE: Rep. Tom Feeney, Florida's 24th district, will check back with us Friday for a Sunday night interview on WDBO. Also, we're awaiting confirmation from Melanie Morgan. We want them both on the show that night. Here's Rep. Feeney's legislative proposal.
TUESDAY AT CAMP BERKELEY
I arrived in the "belly of the beast" at 3:45 AM. As far as I could tell I was the first on the scene, save two TV vans. After I parked, both news crews wanted an interview with me, which I agreed to. Never done that before and I hope I didn't embarrass myself or MAF.
Just minutes after the interviews, I was greeted by Gold Star Mom, Debbie Lee, and Blue Star Mom, Deborah Johns. Both moms couldn't have been nicer in welcoming me. However, as the day progressed, I would realize just how "unwelcoming" these two could be--they were a force to be reckoned with when it came to shouting down Code Pink. Not long after I met the two moms, Code Pink had the pleasure of meeting them too:
Andrea at The Radio Patriot posted my updates and photos as the day progressed, so I'll just give you my impression of what took place. First, MAF had a permit for the park area; Code Pink and the the rest of the anti-military throwbacks were assigned across the street in front of the Civic Center. Both groups were to stay in their assigned areas.
However, the City of Berkeley had other plans. Officials, the police, would allow Code Pink to cross the street and enter our area so they could engage us, which led to lots of shouting and physical altercations. This happened soon after we arrived. Many of us were new to this protest thing, so we couldn't understand why the police were just standing around allowing this to happen. It was obvious that someone was going to get injured, or worse.
After a couple of these incidents, it became clear what was happening: MAF was "the story." Many had traveled from as far away as the east coast. Code Pink and their throwbacks were "old news." Decades old. The press was set up on our side of the street. So, for Code Pink to get their message out to TV viewers, they had to come to our side of the street to engage us. All day it went something like this:
Code Pink crosses the street, clashes with MAF, sometimes getting physical, TV crews move in for action shots, police enter the fray to regain control, TV crews interview both groups. This cycle repeated all day long. As the day progressed, though, the groups became larger and the situation more dangerous. By larger, I mean, a couple thousand at its peak. The City of Berkeley allowed this to happen all day long. It was a set up from the start, as was the council meeting later on that evening. I don't blame the police, either. They were just following orders, but even they had to know this was wrong.
Between clashes, there were periods of calm, and it was during these times that I had the pleasure of meeting some of the best folks in the world. At one point, I noticed that Debbie Lee (l) and Deborah Johns (r) were both in the same location, so I asked for a picture.
I would've liked a picture with Melanie Morgan but I didn't have the heart to ask her. She is best described as a "tornado with running shoes." The woman was in two locations at the same time. Amazing. And this brings me to what I think is the real story of Berkeley and MAF: The Mothers.
There were many mothers at the protest. I told Andrea many times that I couldn't believe their energy, their dedication, and their willingness to go straight into a crowd of Pinkos to unleash their unbridled anger at the drop of a hat. To say the least, I was inspired.
Because Debbie Lee, Deborah Johns, and Melanie Morgan are the faces of MAF, the ones you see on TV, I want to comment about them, specifically. The nicest ladies you'd ever want to meet. Soft spoken and just pleasant to be around. However, if Code Pinks were in the area slamming our boys and girls in uniform, these mothers were in their faces with the ferocity of any combat vet I've ever met. They needed no invitation; they just flew into action at a moment's notice. I was never so proud.
Then, there's the other side of these woman--their personal stories. The next photos are of Morgan, Lee, and Johns as Morgan gathered hundreds around to hear them and other family members talk:
When it comes to organizing and motivating a group, Melanie is the master. No doubt she's done this before.
Melanie first introduced Gold Star Mom Debbie Lee. Her son, Capt. Marc Alan Lee was the first Navy Seal killed in Iraq. To be honest, when she began talking, I was trying to get position for a good picture. But, after I realized what she was saying, tears were flowing down my cheeks. I wasn't alone, either. The crowd was frozen. It was clear to each of us why these mothers do what they do. And if you didn't understand it by then, you never would.
As I said before, this day, for me, was about the mothers. They were standouts. A force. And when Blue Star Mom Deborah Johns took the stage, she summed up the whole shootin' match for me in one statement:
Said Johns, "There's only one thing worse than a pissed-off Marine, and that's a pissed-off Marine's mother!!"
I'd like to thank all who linked my site and The Radio Patriot, Move America Forward for organizing the Berkeley event, and to all who attended and donated the funding. Thanks also to MAF's Mary Pearson for all the hard work--you never seemed to stop. And to Andrea for sticking with me all day long. I was part of something I will never forget, and I hope to do it again. God willing. More pics and commentary at Andrea's blog.
Now, go over to MAF and donate a few dollars so they can do this again when the need arises. And it will, trust me.
To Robert in Gold River: Tell Buck to get out the checkbook. That's an order! (and thanks for the coffee Tuesday morning)
One more for the road. Melanie Morgan (middle) with the Queen of Pinkdom:
OUR TROOPS. OUR HEROES.