SANTA CRUZ — As Congress decides whether to give President Obama the go-ahead in taking military action against Syria due to alleged chemical weapons offenses, protestors across the country have lost no time in hitting the streets with their anti-war message.
Over Labor Day weekend, in response to a call to action by the national ANSWER Coalition, anti-war demonstrations took place in cities including Los Angeles, Seattle, Tallahassee, Chicago and Albuquerque.
In Santa Cruz on Sunday, about 60 people carrying signs reading, “Hands off Syria,” “More lies like Iraq, hands off Syria” and “Shut down the war machine” elicited honks from passing motorists as they demonstrated at the corner of Ocean and Water streets.
Maureen Smith of the Peace and Freedom Party said she was pleasantly surprised at the turnout and had seen people there she had never seen before.
“I saw people there I didn’t know, which is wonderful,” Smith said. “We put the call out Wednesday, made signs and ANSWER did signs too; one woman brought 20 signs — all different; we thought it was a great response.”
The ANSWER coalition is planning a mass demonstration in Washington D.C. on Sept. 7, with protestors marching from the White House to the Capitol Building, in hopes of catching the ears of Washington lawmakers as they get ready to decide on whether to take military action against the Syrian government when they return from recess on September 9.
Local congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) has already made known he will vote against military action.
In a statement released on Saturday, Farr said there was “little doubt the atrocities committed by President al-Assad on his people are crimes against humanity and in violation of international law. However, if we have learned nothing from these last two conflicts it is that war does not always yield the results we desire.
“I am concerned that immersing ourselves into another nation's civil war would prove to be both a costly and timely endeavor; one that we can ill afford to make on the heels of two of the longest wars in our country's history. Another prolonged war would leave us weak strategically while simultaneously increasing the suffering of the Syrian people.
“For those reasons, I remain opposed to any military involvement in Syria. Without the full support of our allies and a firm case that our national security is at risk, I cannot in good conscious vote now to commit our troops to war.”
Smith said Farr’s statement was a “good sign” but with the ghosts of Iraq and other broken promises on issues like NAFTA still a lingering memory, concerned constituents should keep up the pressure with letters and phone calls “just in case he starts to weaken.”
“You don’t know what happens when you send people to Washington,” she said.
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