Press-Republican

September 10, 2013

Small crowd calls for peace in Syria

By AMY HEGGEN
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A small crowd gathered in downtown Plattsburgh on Monday evening to express opposition to possible military action in Syria.

About 20 people stood on the Greenway next to the ROTA Gallery on Margaret Street holding candles and displaying signs calling for no war and to give peace a chance.

The vigil, coordinated by Mary-Alice Shemo, began with a moment of silence and several peace songs, followed by a discussion. 

“The goal (of the vigil) is partly to make the community aware of what’s going on in Syria,” Shemo said. 

She told the participants that they all need to express their feelings to Congressman Bill Owens and Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

‘STOP AND THINK’

The event was part of a national day of action organized by MoveOn.org Civic Action, CREDO Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Win Without War. According to MoveOn.org, 224 gatherings were planned across the country. 

“There’s all sorts of reasons to stop and think,” Shemo said.

She hopes for negotiations rather than war.

“This could be a stimulus to get better peace talks going. The Syrian people have already been devastated,” Shemo said. “The knee-jerk reaction isn’t the only option. No one could get anything good out of going to war or bombing except those making the weapons.”

‘FED UP’

Betty Ann King of Cadyville also hopes for diplomacy.

“I’m here because I do not want any military action against Syria. I just think that by going to Syria, we will make things worse,” said King. “When will we ever learn?”

Mike Baggett of Plattsburgh, who attended the vigil with his family, said he hoped that these events around the United States will get the attention of Congress.

“I’m fed up with continuous war,” he said. “In the meantime, this country has got problems of its own.”

‘GRABS MY HEART’

Other vigil attendees hoped that more citizens will take a stand. 

“People have lost the sense that democracy only works if we work it,” said Elizabeth Sarfaty of Malone. “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re really part of the problem.

“When I hear the president say we have to punish people it really grabs my heart,” she said.

Cassie Cayea of Plattsburgh said she thinks it’s the citizen’s job to stand up against war. 

“We don’t need another war that will continue on indefinitely,” she said. “Those wars are not helping me, helping you or helping anyone here.”