These are from Saturday, March 22nd, at the USMC Officer Selection Office in Berkeley. There was a massive pro-troop rally organized primarily by Doug Lyvere of Eagles Up. Eagles Up paid for the permit (code pink has one for free from the city council), but there were members from a variety of organizations including Move America Forward, and the Patriot Guard Riders and the Lafayette Flag Brigade. There were also regulars, like a group of Berkeley High School students who come by regularly to support the troops, and local folks active on conservative forums like Free Republic.
I was only there for part of the event - prior to my arrival they met in a local city, bought gas and supplies for the day, then entered Berkeley. I caught up with them when they had mostly arrived in Berkeley. There were speeches (focusing on support of the troops, the wish for the Berkeley City Council to apologize for their hateful words, and the fact that not only are all the folks at the rally boycotting Berkeley goods but Brian Dennard of Brigade America announced millions of dollars in contracts pulled from Berkeley), and singing, and generally it was a big social get-together. They collected up all the receipts of all the stuff they'd bought in other cities that day to present to the mayor on Monday.
Frankly most of these folks are further to the right than me (just because I look like a conservative when I write about Code Pink doesn't mean I wouldn't be a moderate anywhere else) and it's clear some of these folks have colorful histories but I'll tell you - I've never felt safer in Berkeley.
I'll also warn you - this is going to be a bit of a long report (three parts). It was a big crowd and hard to capture all at once, so you're going to get it in bits and pieces.
Update: Thanks for the links - this report's making the rounds, and I'm sure a lot of links got lost in the shuffle, but in addition to the sites already listed, some of which linked to me, it's hard not to notice Michelle Malkin, and Gateway Pundit (Update: especially when Gateway Pundit's entry got an Instalanche and even second hand that was noticeable here). Also Zombie was kind enough to put in a cross link in the Zombietime report for that same event.
Before I do my usual establishing shots, this should give you a good feel for the day in short form
If you can't make that out, that's "Code Stink, we are" and then on their signs "Thoughtless Hypocrite", "Law Breaker" and "Lazy Unemployed".
The page has the definition of an apology.
Walking towards the office - blocks away - I started seeing collections of bikes. Locals will recognize Bongo Burger - it's a ways away from the office. Basically it's impossible to get a count because the bikes were all over the city, and the people were coming and going, but, well, you'll see the turnout...
Left side... Well, actually you won't see the turnout, because I don't have a lens wide enough and even if I did there was no one place to even see the whole thing. But you get the idea. My best guess is about 500 people (see update, below), but again, it was hard to count - you would think that was it and then another 50 motorcycles would zip by looking for parking. And remember, that's a tiny fraction of the bikes...
...see the orange sign for the Gelato place - it's blocks away, and the other side of the street had just as many bikes if not more. And I have shots of bikes in lots of places - I just chose this and the Bongo Burger shot because locals will recognize them.
Update: Somebody with one of those little hand counter clicker things (you know the ones) counted bikes as they left Emeryville, and there were 350 bikes. Now, lots of folks just went directly to Berkeley (Possibly 50-100 more bikes) or drove a car or took the subway, but my initial estimate of 500 looks low, if anything. I haven't seen any local media commit to a number but I've seen them mention it was larger than the anti-war protests we had on the 5th anniversary of the war and one TV station said "several hundred". Organizers are claiming 800+ and they could very well be correct. People were constantly wandering in and out of the area and moving their vehicles every hour - quite a bit of the downtown area was filled with pairs of guys carrying flags headed to swap their parking spots. Just wandering around downtown was quite fun.
OK, back to the event.
So to start, people were just hanging out. No shortage of flags of course.
And people driving by honked and waved. Some folks flashed their hats, others VA cards.
I don't feel that most of the signs need commentary so don't be shocked if I don't write something after every one.
There was a decent amount of media there. I counted five or six vans and wasn't really looking for them.
Lots of folks clearly knew each other and were making new friends as well.
OK, on to page two of three for singers, speakers, and Code Pink's massive counter response (all four of them).
You can contact me at info (at) ProtestShooter.com