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Peace rally targets Trump bombardment of Syrian airfield

About 50 people rallied under the peace banner Sunday afternoon at Bidwell Parkway and Elmwood Avenue to protest President Trump's decision Thursday to bombard a Syrian airfield in response to the lethal gassing of civilians blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The action was organized by the Buffalo chapter of the International Action Center, a nationwide grassroots anti-war movement. Garrett Dicembre, a rally organizer, characterized the action against Trump's decision to launch the cruise missiles as a general protest against government thinking.

Policy on the Middle East "is going to be the same with either (political) party controlling the national government," she said. "It's about controlling the Middle East" for the benefit of U.S. upper classes.

"We want the U.S. to stop its aggression in Syria and stop funding groups fighting" against the Syrian government, Dicembre said. "The war would not exist without U.S. funding."

The rally, which lasted about an hour, got underway at 3 p.m.

Participants chanted, ''What do we want? Peace. 'When do we want it? Now!"

The march drew responses from passing motorists – some honking in support.

Others were not supportive, including one taunt of, "You bunch of crybabies."

The antiwar protesters also chanted, "Stop the War" and "U.S. Out of the Middle East."

Addressing the protest through a loudspeaker, IAC member Tom Answeeney challenged the U.S. government's assertion that the gas dropped on the civilians by Syrian government planes was sarin.

"Capitalism is at the center of the war in the Middle East," he added.

Protester Terrence Kumpf  said U.S. drone attacks in the Middle East since 2009 have "have killed more women and children" than fighters in the Syrian conflict.

IAC member Ellie Dorritie denounced Trump's "hypocrisy" in ordering the bombardment as evidence the president and his oil industry cronies are concerned only about "their off-shore accounts and their profits."

Clutching an American flag, Army veteran Brian Cheverie told the crowd, "It's time we all stood up and made noise" about U.S.-backed wars in the Middle East.

Victoria Ross, executive director of the Western New York Peace Center, said the continuing bloodshed in the Middle East "is hot helping" improve the living conditions for civilians there.

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