3 Victorians protest possible US attack against Syria (video)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Aug. 31, 2013 at 3:31 a.m.
Updated Sept. 1, 2013 at 4:01 a.m.

Jade Villarreal holds a sign Saturday afternoon at the North Navarro Street and Sam Houston Drive intersection in protest of the possible U.S. military attack on Syria.

Jade Villarreal holds a sign Saturday afternoon at the North Navarro Street and Sam Houston Drive intersection in protest of the possible U.S. military attack on Syria.   Bianca Montes for The Victoria Advocate

From the side of the road Saturday afternoon, Jade Villarreal screams at the motorists passing her by, willing them to hear her cries of outrage. "They will attack us," she shouts.

For a moment, she covers her face with the red fabric of her Houston Free Thinkers T-shirt as the fumes of a fleeting truck fill the air around her, but she doesn't stop roaring. "We have been warned," she continues, her voice hoarse. "They will attack us."

Protesters across the nation took to the streets this weekend to speak out against the proposed missile attack against Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons by Syria President Bashar Assad's regime.

A Facebook page dedicated to the Victoria event invited just more than 300 people. Nearly 40 said they were going to attend. Only three rallied in the 5100 block of North Navarro Street, near the intersection of Sam Houston Drive.

Some motorists honked in concurrence with the words scribbled across the activists' signs, others in disagreement.

One woman in a black sport utility vehicle rolled down her window and said, "This is not Obama's fault."

President Barack Obama, in a news conference Saturday, said he would seek approval from Congress before launching any military action in Syria.

Congress is on summer vacation until Sept. 9.

Laura Kinnison, president of the Victoria Democrats Club, said in a phone interview that Obama has followed procedure and that the choice of attack is now in the hands of Congress.

Jane Bernal, Victoria County Democratic Party chairwoman, said she supports intervention by cease-fire with the assistance of the United Nations or a coalition that would include Arab countries.

"It should also be done with adequate input from our president, Senate and Congress," she said.

Protester Max Christie, of Victoria, said waiting for Congress was a good call by Obama but that it was a "good decision on a bad choice."

Recourse should not depend on if the people were gassed or shot with bullets, Christie said.

"It's not our place to police their war," he said, holding up a sign that read "Don't attack Syria" as he stood, smoking a cigarette, in front of the Dollar General on North Navarro Street.

The alleged chemical attack in Syria killed 1,429 people, according to the U.S. "What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?" Obama said during the news conference Saturday.

Bobby Bentley, who was not at the protest, said in an email Saturday that Americans should stay out of Syria because it has no business striking a country or government that is not a threat to America.

"I don't think Congress will approve any action at this time, and the president believes he has the authority to strike without approval," he wrote. "If he does this, I think it will be a grave mistake on his part. He also has to consider the collateral damage, the killing of innocent citizens."

Villarreal, a Victoria native who organized the event in Victoria and another in Houston, said had this crisis happened two years ago, she probably wouldn't have been standing on the side of the street, waving a sign in protest.

"I have a daughter," she said. "She is a year and a half, and I'm passionate about all of this for her. It affects me directly because she will be the next generation. This will be her war."

Related stories:

Obama to seek congressional OK for Syria action

Possible US-led attack on Syria sparks rallies



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