Sunday, May 22, 2005

Seattle Recruiting Protest

The recent controversy over the alleged actions of a few military recruiters has had many side effects. As May 21st is/was Armed Forces Day, some groups planned protests at recruiting offices around the country, as a counter to the pro-military events found at various military bases. I personally find this distasteful, as our men and women in uniform deserve our respect and support. If there are individuals who have not been professional in their recruiting efforts, it should not be used to dismantle the recruiting process. This is rather like saying that because a small handful of stock traders broke rules, we should abolish Wall Street!

Thanks to Blackfive, I was tipped off that the S. Jackson Street recruiting office here in Seattle was one such targeted. So just before noon on Saturday, I parked near the office and wandered in to say hello. Sergeant First Class Due and the other recruiters were great to talk with, kindly pointing out that I wasn't too old to serve, just overqualified! Back outside, I met with Annette and Dan, two other Blackfive readers who I was very glad to have for company.

Here is the whole crowd, minus a couple who hung around to annoy me and my new friends Annette and Dan S. (read below) :

Note the large professional banner :

More on the signs :

Larger images of the pictures above are here ... one, two, three, four.

I will say that while I was there it was peaceful. The protestors did their chanting and circling in the parking lot, and no one tried to enter the Recruiting office, which is on the right hand side in the first picture.

The protest action seemed mostly to consist of several individuals giving their viewpoints on the need to abolish recruiting in schools. We stood back and watched/listened, and after a few minutes, found that several people had gathered close to us. It may have been the way we didn't join in with the general head-nodding, or the "Operation Iraqi Freedom" t-shirt I was wearing (since my Blackfive shirt had not yet arrived when I left in the morning), but we apparently stood out as different ... go figure!

These folks tried to get us to agree with their suggestions on ending the recruitment. When they found that we were in total support of the military in general, and the recruiters as a group, this became a challenge. One person actually told us that if they got the recruiters out of the schools, then the only way to get enough recruits would be to reinstitute a draft, and that would end the war in Iraq right away.

... We resisted the urge to laugh at that, barely. Then we pointed out that we were not present to debate the war, but hoped to observe and hear what people had to say. For some perverse reason, this seemed to bring out the worst in a couple of folks - who then made it their business to interrupt our conversations among ourselves! This stage didn't last too long, though, because Dan and I both had to leave, and so we three left the protest still going at about 12:40.

I had to take one last pic, though, because Dan's bumper sticker was such a nice counter to the signs we had been seeing waved around :

Local station KOMO-TV covered the even today, and while the web site may change, it currently lists this protest as the Top Story.

Here are a couple of DoD links related to the recruiting issue :
Army Recruiters Stand Down to Refocus on Values
Army Recruiting Commander Briefing


I want to thank Staff Sgt Darrell McAllister (the description was Perfect!) and Captain Boczar for their hospitality as well as SFC Due. SSG McAllister provided another pic of the event taken from the Recruiting office, which is posted in Blackfive's update today, along with commenter Janie's notes from the event.

Here are some links to others on the topic of recruiting in the schools...

The Unalienable Right with MSNBC viewers - the anti-military peacenik demographic

Check out the site Go Jack Army, a blog run by an active Army Recruiter.