BOSTON — More than 200 protesters gathered at the nation’s oldest public park Saturday as part of nationwide demonstrations opposing military strikes against the Syrian government as President Barack Obama announced he would seek congressional approval for such a move.
The group stood at the corner of the Boston Common and held up signs that said “Stay Out of Syria” and “Hands Off Syria.” At least one speaker said congressional authorization would not make an attack against Syria acceptable.
Protesters also chanted “Don’t Bomb Syria! Don’t bomb Syria! Don’t bomb Syria!” during breaks between speeches opposing the use of force.
Later, they marched to Secretary of State John Kerry’s home on Beacon Hill, knocked on the door and left a handwritten sign that said “Stay Out of Syria.” They then marched on to Faneuil Hall.
Garret Kirkland, a spokesman for rally organizers, said the protesters fear that any military action would harm civilians.
“It’s just a big mess, and we shouldn’t be involved. Period,” he said. “There is a heavy emphasis on the humanitarian side … because there’s going to be collateral damage, there’s gonna be civilian victims, you can’t bomb a country and not hit civilians. Absolutely.”
The U.S. says Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government launched an attack that killed more than 1,400 people there this month. Obama addressed the nation Saturday, saying he will seek congressional authorization for the use of force against Assad’s regime to discourage him and others from using chemical weapons. The Syrian government blames rebels in the Aug. 21 attack and has threatened retaliation if it is attacked.
The protesters are adamant that the U.S. should stay out of the fray.
“I don’t want on my conscience – on my hands – this blood that can be paid for with my taxes,” Kirkland said. “This is not right. This will all be done in my name, in our name.”