Hands Off Syria – We Denounce Trump’s Air Strikes!

MN Peace Action Coalition Syria Emergency Response Protest

Speech by Meredith Aby-Keirstead, Anti-War Committee member on April 8, 2017

We are here today to denounce U.S. missile attacks on Syria. The U.S. should not increase its intervention in Syria. More bombing will not bring back the victims of this recent chemical weapons use. More bombing will not bring back the over 400,000 deaths in this 6 year conflict.

Repeatedly I am asked, what should we – the US – do in face of the brutality of what is happening in Syria? First off this question assumes that the US isn’t already fueling this conflict and we are. Islamic fundamentalist rebels are fighting with US weapons and training. Russian and Israeli involvement increases every time US involvement increases.

Next this conflict started because of the power vacuum we created in the first Iraq war in 1991, and then escalated with the invasion in 2003. We have been fighting in Iraq since I was a teenager. Every time the US intervenes it creates more instability, more chaos, more deaths, and perpetuates the conflict. Look at Iraq, Libya and Syria. It is imperative that we struggle with our neighbors, our family members, and our friends to say that US aggression is not a path to peace!

Lastly, it is outrageous for the US of all countries to lecture other countries on chemical weapons. The US needs to stop using WMD itself and lead by example rather than by bombing campaigns if it wants less chemical weapons use in the world.

I am concerned about what will happen in the weeks ahead. Trump’s escalation risks a broader regional war. Israel is considering invading and Russia could respond too. The U.S. is pouring gasoline on this conflict.

On Thursday night the US spent 29 million five hundred thousand dollars on Tomahawk missiles which were fired at Syria. The budget that Trump asked for demonstrates what his real agenda is. He is asking for a 54 billion dollar increase to the largest military budget in the world while at the same time proposing cuts to vital social service, education and environmental programs. We saw on Thursday night what he will do with this money and we need to pressure Congress to fund human needs and not war!

This responsibility of speaking out is on us. The 1% are united in supporting this war. Hilary Clinton openly dared Trump to attack on Thursday and the only Democratic “opposition” to the aggression is that they should have been given the opportunity to give him a green light to attack first – not a real opposition at all! Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted today that five top papers ran 18 opinion pieces praising Syria strikes and that none ran a piece critical of this action. Many members of progressive and liberal groups are confused on the issue of Syria so we need to be vocal in challenging the mythology of the “US humanitarian war”.

We, the anti-war movement have a moral responsibility to speak out against this war. The anti-war movement needs to respond in full force by demanding an end to U.S. attacks and get its troops out of Syria. We can’t just protest the Muslim ban. We need to protest how our government creates more refugees.


Solidarity with Anti-War Protesters in Florida:

I want to also announce that in Jacksonville, Florida yesterday police launched a vicious attack on a “No war with Syria” rally. Four people were arrested, and one protester was beaten so severely that he was hospitalized.

At the protest about six Trump supporters attempted to disrupt the 50-person anti-war rally. A Trump supporter got behind the speakers with a pro-Trump flag and hit a protester with it; at that point the cops launched their attack.

One demonstrator, who was black and deaf, was punched in the face and kidneys, while a taser was in his back. His hearing aid was knocked out of his ear and he was brutalized for failing to comply with police commands he couldn’t hear. Protesters told the cops he was deaf but they ignored them. He was arrested and is now in the hospital. A member of Veterans for Peace was punched in the face by the cops. The rally emcee was arrested across the street where he was merely encouraging protesters to go to the jail to support those who had been detained.

The police completely ignored the pro-Trump provocateurs as they moved in to unleash merciless beatings. The arrested activists are being charged with felonies of inciting a riot. The activist who was beaten so severely that he had to be hospitalized was charged additionally with assault.

In Trump’s America the movement to organize for peace and justice is growing and needs to be protected. We need to defend our right to dissent! The Anti-War Committee and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression will let folks know about their legal defense and fundraising. I wanted to let you know about the case today so that you can be prepared to help our sisters and brothers in the Florida anti-war movement.