Local women gather to protest potential air strike on Syria

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ELIZABETH A. CONKEY

Staff Writer

BENNINGTON -- Eight local women gathered at Bennington's Four Corners Saturday afternoon at 12:30 in peaceful protest of a possible air strike on Syria.

One protestor, Maryann St. John of Bennington, and a 15-year member of the Greater Bennington Peace and Justice Center, said the group was cumulatively concerned about the possibility of entering war, yet again.

During a press conference in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, President Obama refused to speculate whether or not he would proceed with an air strike against Syria, regardless of congressional opposition.

Additionally, he resisted pressures from Russian President Vladimir Putin to abandon all military action against the country altogether.

St. John and her fellow protesters believe that any military action taken against Syria would lead to problems much greater than simply a massive loss of life and destruction.

"We don't believe that war is the answer to this situation," St. John said. "The president should work with other countries internationally to determine the next steps regarding chemical weapon use."

St. John noted the importance of coming together as a community for change.

"People need to understand that they have a voice and should unite to express their feelings about this topic to their legislators before it's too late," she said.

Rosemarie Jackowski has been a member of the Veterans for Peace organization for 15 years. Saturday, she stood, sign in hand, and noted, "It's not that I think standing here on the corner is going to accomplish much, it's just that being silent is much worse."

A member of the Greater Bennington Peace and Justice Center for 33 years, Barbara MacIntyre explained that the goal of the group's protest was simply to raise local awareness of the global issue at hand.

"We can stop this if we act early enough," she said. "If we wait, it will be too late, though it may already be too late."

Obama announced during Friday's press conference that he plans to address the nation Tuesday.

"I do consider it part of my job to help make the case and to explain to the American people exactly why I think this is the right thing to do," the president said. "Failing to respond to this breach of this international norm would send a signal to rogue nations, authoritarian regimes, and terrorist organizations that they can develop and use weapons of mass destruction and not pay a consequence."

Congressional votes on the potential air strike are expected later this week.

Contact Elizabeth A. Conkey at econkey@benningtonbanner.com or follow on Twitter @bethconkey.


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