More than 100 protesters in Tampa say no to a strike on Syria

  • Activists descended on all four corners of the intersection of Dale Mabry & Gandy

A potential attack on Syria has been delayed by President Obama's declaration for Congress to vote on what's going to happen. On Saturday night in Tampa, about 125-150 protesters gathered on all four corners of the intersection of Dale Mabry Highway and Gandy Boulevard to call for Obama not to attack Syria. Not now. Not next week. Not ever.

"What if Congress votes no?" asked St. Pete Beach resident Pete See regarding the president's announcement. "Is he going to abide by that? He didn't say."

Congress is not scheduled to return to the nation's capital until Sept. 9, and there appears to be no urgent call by House or Senate leaders to come in before that. But members of the crowd in Tampa — which included members of both the far left and far right — said although they sympathize with the Syrian people, dropping bombs isn't going to make the situation better.

"You've got a ruthless dictator on one side, and Al-Qaeda on the other. Which one should we fight for?" asked Tampa resident Chuck Harmon, who was wearing a Tampa 9.12 t-shirt. "When you send bombs after people, that's an act of war, number one. It's pretty serious. There's got to be a better way than that. I think the U.S. has no business being there."

Several people in the crowd said that while they don't question that chemical weapons killing more than 1,000 people were employed on Aug. 21 in Syria, there is still a question about who released them into the atmosphere.

"We've heard the recordings, these horrible recordings of people screaming for their last gasps of air," said Tampa resident Andrea Hope. "But I just think there has to be another way to resolve this than just going and dropping bombs on another country and then just going in and getting deeper. That's not up to me to figure out, but I think it's for our politicians who we vote in office, they need to come up with something better than war."

Tampa resident Amir Baghajati said Western powers have been hypocritical by giving aid to some of the rebel groups who have terrorism ties. He said the best thing that the U.S. can do is lean on the Gulf states to tell them to stop funding those groups and force the rebels to have serious talks with the Bashar government in Syria. "The fighting has to stop inside Syria, but any intervention from the west isn't going to solve it," he said.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Friday, more Americans say the U.S. should not take broad military action against Syria (50 to 42 percent). However those numbers are nearly reversed when it comes to supporting cruise missile strikes, with 50 percent supporting them and 44 opposing.

Jesse Nevel with the Uhuru Solidarity Movement said he wouldn't characterize what has been going on in Syria for the past two years as a civil war.

"These forces have been trained and armed by the US, the UK, France and Israel. You have an imperialist occupation trying to overthrow the Assad government because they have in some objective ways, ran counter to the interests of US and Israel in that part of the world."

And more than one protester said they don't believe Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry when it comes to the evidence they say they have that shows Assad is guilty of violating human rights with using a weapon of mass destruction.

"I don't believe anything our government says as far as chemical weapons being used," said Christina Petro from Tampa. "They may have been used, but I don't believe that it was necessarily the Assad regime that used them. It's like how they said Iraq had WMD. That was obviously a lie, so why should I believe them now?"

And her last words were what seemed to be theme of the protest.

"We need to take care of ourselves and not be the policeman of the world," she said.

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