Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society protest war on Syria at Bill Nelson's Office

09/13/13 Naveen Sultan
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A dozen anti-war activists gathered outside of Bill’s Nelson office in Tampa yesterday to urge him to vote against military action in Syria if the issue is brought to Congress. The protest was organized by the Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society.

There are 12 protestors standing on the corner of the sidewalk outside of the federal courthouse. The signs that they’re holding shake back and forth against the strong wind. Together they chant in hopes to pressure Senator Bill Nelson to speak out against a war on Syria.

Jared Hamil became a member of Tampa Bay Students for a Democratic Society (or SDS for short) 6 years ago when he was a college student at the University of Florida. Hamil has helped organize the protest. He says the fierce opposition to war has caused President Barack Obama to delay a congressional vote on airstrikes in Syria.

“Obama and US government has been pressured by the people. I mean most Americans overwhelmingly don’t want anything to do with a strike or another war anywhere or in Syria and so I think Obama was forced in a position that he doesn’t want and if we keep active - groups like Tampa Bay SDS or whoever you know remains active, remains in the streets and keeps an eye on the government, I think that we can beat this and that the United States will not strike and kill innocent civilians."

Tampa Ba
SDS Syria Protest

Anita Stewart, is co-chair of the Green Party of Florida and interim president of Veterans for Peace Tampa. She says it’s time for the government to deal with the problems at home instead of trying to start new wars.

“We need to be involved with what’s going on here, we have people here that are hungry on the streets and we have people that don’t have jobs. We need to be focused on our infrastructure. We’re already in so many theaters globally, war theaters we have troops just about everywhere, on every continent we have multi-billion dollar embassies in these countries. You know let’s bring that money home and let’s bring the troops home.”

Stewart also says that a limited airstrike on Syria would be a mistake that America has already made in its past.

“A limited airstrike is what Pearl Harbor was. Pearl Harbor was a limited airstrike with no boots on the ground. So when they’re using those kinds of terms this is what we’re going to be doing to the people in Syria.”

President Obama addressed the nation on Tuesday saying he's willing to hold off on airstrikes and explore diplomacy only if Syria follows through on negotiations to hand over its chemical weapons. Senator Bill Nelson expressed his support of Obama's position after the speech.

“Assad should be warned that if he does not turn over the chemical weapons over to an international custody in the next three weeks then the president is authorized to strike.”

Catherine Lim is a USF alumna who is still actively involved with Tampa Bay SDS. She says she disagrees with the arguments in the President's speech especially the idea of using American exceptionalism as a justification for intervention in Syria.

“I feel that seeing ourselves as exceptional makes us seem like we have responsibilities or a duty to help people in outside other countries. You know what? Our help isn’t wanted, it’s not necessary and it’s dangerous. “

The protestors said Students for a Democratic Society meet at the USF campus every Thursday at 7 pm to discuss issues such as peace in Syria and all over the world. There is another rally against war on Syria tomorrow at 6 in the evening in South Tampa. It's at the corner of South Dale Mabry Highway and Gandy Boulevard.

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