Click photo to enlarge
Anti-war protesters battle police and military supporters in a massive protest outside City Hall in Berkeley, Calif., on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2008. The all-day protest is in anticipation of the Berkeley City Council reconsidering their vote that tells U.S. Marines recruiters that they aren't welcome in Berkeley. (Alison Yin/Staff)
City Council members who were criticized for telling Marine recruiters they don't belong in Berkeley are moderating their position.

They now say they oppose the war in Iraq but support the troops.

Berkeley's City Council voted two weeks ago to send a letter to a downtown recruiting station advising the Marines they were not welcome.

In a session that stretched into early Wednesday, the council said they recognize recruiters' right to be in Berkeley. The council reiterated its opposition to the war but said, "We deeply respect and support the men and women in our armed forces."

The meeting drew hundreds of people on both sides of the issue who rallied all day and into the night outside City Hall.

The letter drew criticism nationally, including calls to withhold state and federal funds to the city, and pro-military and anti-war protesters staged rallies outside City Hall all day.

Following is a running journal of events from Tuesday morning:

11:15 p.m.

The Berkeley City Council is meeting at this hour but has yet to consider whether they will soften their position after voting last month to send a letter to a downtown U.S. Marine Corps recruiting station that service members were "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

The council convened about 7 p.m., and took up the Marines issue around 9:30 p.m.

4:35 p.m.

Red, white and blue far outnumbered pink now in the runup to the 7 p.m. city council meeting.

Three people have been arrested today, Berkeley police said.

Pete Salvatore, age unavailable, of Rocklin near Sacramento, was arrested shortly after 1 p.m. on suspicion of brandishing a weapon, said Berkeley police Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.

A group of Code Pink supporters wrapped Salvatore in a large banner and he claimed he needed the knife to free himself, Kusmiss said.

One of the Code Pink supporters, from San Ramon, took his picture. He was arrested because police concluded he brandished the knife in a threatening manner and also made a death threat to one of the Code Pink members, Kusmiss said.

Two teenagers, one 15 and the other 13, were arrested about 3:30 p.m. on suspicion of disturbing the peace and challenging someone to a fight, Kusmiss said.

The teens, both skateboarders, got into an argument with pro-military supporters. Police asked both to avoid confrontations and to not ride their skateboards, but they did anyway, Kusmiss said.

Police had to use some force to subdue both. A crowd of about 200 people converged at the police station afterward, angry over the arrests.

"The goal here is to ensure that all the protesters can express themselves freely, and when officers are issuing orders, if officers feel there is a public safety threat, they are going to use methods to disperse the crowd," Kusmiss said.

2:50 p.m.

A speech rally by members of Move America Forward has begun with nearly 200 people waving American flags, directly across the street from Code Pink demonstrators, in the park across the street from the old City Hall.

"It's hard to get through these deployments," said Deborah Johns of Granite Bay, near Folsom, who also is a Blue Star mom. "Stop harassing our military!" She supports the recruiting station.

Eve Tidwell flew in this morning from Columbus, Ga., to represent a mothers organization that supports Army soldiers from nearby Fort Benning, Ga.

"Yes, we use the word God, and yes we use the word bless," said Tidwell, clad in all red, white and blue and referring to how parents frequently say "God bless the troops." Tidwell plans to return to Georgia tonight.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is being looped in the background.

2:40 p.m.

High school students have been a fixture at the protests today, despite potential consequences.

"I'm skipping school to support what I believe in," said Erin Kerr, 15, a Berkeley High School sophomore. "My parents know I'm here and I don't care if I get suspended."

"I'm skipping school, I don't support the Marine recruiting center," said Alex McCoy, 14, a Berkeley High freshman. "I'm here as a high school student to get people's attention."

Some Berkeley High students have been suspended for skipping school for the protests, but he shrugged that off. "I would have come here no matter what," he said and preferred to be at the protest instead of in class. "Most of my teachers are here too."

2:15 p.m.

Both protest crowds have largely dissipated and the lawn in front of the old city hall has been overtaken by nearby high school students getting out of class.

The demonstrators plan to re-group in advance of this evening's 7 p.m. city council meeting intended to resolve the controversy one way or another.

Some protesters from the anti-war group Code Pink have moved to the front of the Marine recruiting station that has been at the center of the controversy. The station was closed.

1:20 p.m.

The two primary groups demonstrating -- the pro-military Move America Forward and the anti-war Code Pink -- have dissipated considerably since the morning, allowing a relative calm to come over the City Hall lawn.

A handful of teachers from Berkeley High School, located across the street from the old City Hall, have brought out their students so they can see their lesson plans play out before heir eyes.

Phil Halpern brought out his fourth-period communications and social justice class.

"It's a great exercise in democracy for them to see this," Halpern said.

Special education teacher Leah Katz said she has encouraged her students to witness the demonstrations, and plans to encourage students in other classes to take part as well.

At least one student said he was left with no choice but to watch the protests after he was barred from returning to class after leaving without permission.

Now, the crowd of about 250 high schoolers are the dominant population on the lawn. Some students, however, saw it more as a chance to get out of class, evidenced by the sight of teen couples necking in the midst of the protests.

Some students have sat down on the area of the lawn that police designated to Move America Forward, and some members of the pro-military group are trying to get them to leave, leading to verbal confrontations.

12:45 p.m.

The Move America Forward crowd has multiplied. Hundreds wear military gear like hats, pins, uniforms and carry American flags -- more than 50 flags waved in the air.

Code Pink members marched around the other group on the City Hall lawn, chanting "'make love, not war."

Protesters then mixed together, and small groups yelled at each other, leading police officers in riot gear to break up the groups and create a 10- to 15 foot separation between them on the City Hall lawn.

Martin Luther King Jr. Way has been closed.

Music blared over loud speakers, played by a military band.

12:30 p.m.

Police have separated the two main protest groups, Code Pink and Move America Forward, trying to keep about 150 anti-military demonstrators away from about 300 pro-military people.

A physical confrontation occurred between a Move America Forward member and a Berkeley High School student after the groups were separated. The pro-military protester, who punched the student, was detained by police.

12:15 p.m.

In the background, a radio plays the Bob Dylan anthem, "The Times They Are A-Changin'," followed by Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth."

Across the street, supporters for Move America Forward waved their Marine and American flags.

Marysville resident Nick Tanguay, 43, sports a shirt saying "Places to go, people to piss off."

He's here today in support of the Marines. "I agree with a lot of what they say, but when they attacked the Marines, that was enough," he said.

Tanguay's oldest son has been a Marine for two years and he is proud of him. He lifts his pants leg up, the denim crinkles around his knee and displays a tattoo portraying his son's face with a Marine's hat on.

Tanguay doesn't like President Bush, but he supports the military. "This is an unjust war, but the anger should be directed at Bush and our government, not the Marine Corps," he said.

Mary MonkowskI, 56, came to Berkeley from Portland, Ore., after seeing a video on the Internet about the protests.

"To harass the troops is the cheap easy way out of an incredibly complex problem," she said. "It is wrong to blame the military for the decisions made by the executive and legislative branches of our government."

12:15 p.m.

Ann Wright, 61, spoke through a megaphone.

"We don't support an illegal and immoral war ...we want this recruiting station out of here," Wright declared. "They lie, they cheat and this system is sucking our young men and women in," she said.

"We need to take our country back," she said.

Wright spoke for the organization Veterans for Peace. She said she ended her 29-year military career in 2003 because of her opposition to the Iraq war. The Honolulu resident travels all over the United States speaking out against the U.S. engagement in Iraq.

Protester Hal Muskat reclined on a lawn chair.

"I think the City Council is righteous and courageous, and I'm here to support them," he said.

"It's already working, no matter what happens in those chambers tonight," said Muskat, also a member of Veterans for Peace. "Maybe Berkeley can show the world what we stand for and maybe in ten years the rest of the country will follow, and kick out the recruiting stations."

11:45 a.m.

Demonstrators were outside the old City Hall, chanting, "Skateboard, don't waterboard" as Berkeley High School students skate by. Many were skipping school and coming out on their lunch breaks to learn more about opposition to the Marine recruiting station and the war in Iraq.

"I'm here to hear the opinions," said Tessa Roe, 15, a student. "I think it's inappropriate to try to recruit kids for the army and the war. I'd rather have the ... money spent to keep our library open longer, so we can learn for ourselves and decide what we want to do."

While the students shouted along with the honking cars driving by, speeches were held at the Code Pink campsite.

10 a.m.

Honking, hooting and hollering.

That was the sound of the morning commute today on Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley.

Code Pink, a women's peace organization, supporters shouted "We are the true patriots" through blowhorns, while pro-military organization Move America Forward supporters yelled back "We're all-American."

The divide between the two groups is only 6 feet long, the distance of roadway separating the screams and cries of outrage at each other's views.

The signs waving in the air mimic the protesters' chants. '"Support victory, surrender is not an option," adorned one sign of the pro-military groups, while "You can't attend college in a body bag" could be seen on one carried by their opposition.

Heide Unger, a Move America Forward activist, traveled from Gilroy to take part in the activities.

"I should have brought some garlic to ward off the evil from Code Pink," she said.

Unger carried a bronze Civil War medal in her back pocket that belonged to her great-great grandfather. Her walker was partially hidden under her flag and red, white and blue sweaters.

"I support the federal government and the Marine Corps," Unger said. "The Code Pink people grabbed my wrist and tried to pull down my flag earlier this morning, but I didn't let go."

Berkeley resident Bill Newton, 59, came from work at UC Berkeley to see the commotion.

"I had to walk over here to check it out," Newton said. "Frankly I think the City Council is pretty stupid. But the war is pretty stupid too."

Police officers were watching both sides to keep things from taking a violent turn.

Oakland resident Becky Lyman, 37, a Code Pink activist, has camped out in front of the old City Hall since Monday night. Coffee in her hand, she said she feels like both sides want a common goal: the best thing for the country.

"We have opposing ways of approaching that," Lyman said.

"Bring our soldiers back now," she yelled.

"Killing is not the answer," she screamed.