SAN FRANCISCO: Cars slowed and honked as the rain began to drizzle on the 150 concerned citizens as they held up signs, "Don't Bomb Syria."
For an hour on Monday evening, protesters came together in a show of discontent across the San Francisco Bay Area. All were in agreement: Don't bomb Syria.
In the heart of San Francisco, a stone's throw from the United Nations Plaza and the Civic Center, scores of residents gathered in front of senior Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi's office to push for an end to what one protester said was the "war-mongering that we saw in the lead up to the Iraq war."
For many, the calls for war are a return to the George W. Bush era of violence as an appropriate response.
Zanna, a middle-aged woman who first came to the Bay Area 40 years ago to find a "progressive" living situation, hopes to avoid more bloodshed in a country already fraught with the horrors of civil war.
"Over the past decade or so we have been out to voice our call for peace, but we don't have that many people out there yet speaking," Zanna told The Progressive. She remained positive that the budding of a new anti-war peace movement is on the horizon.
"We will employ civil disobedience if we have to in order to get our voices heard," she said. "This is the right thing to do and I hope others will follow suit and help end this war before it begins.
Others, including Dorothy Santos of AF3IRM, the Association of Filipinas, Feminists Fighting Imperialism Re-feudalization, & Marginalization, told the crowd that by bombing Syria it would put at risk women and children in a country where tens of thousands have been killed and more have been forced to leave in order to save their lives.
"Across the country, we stand in solidarity with our Syrian sisters as Congress may vote to authorize the use of military force," Santos told the audience. "We know that war and armed conflict has never brought women's liberation. As women of color, we send a message to you, Pelosi, that when you side with the Republican warmongers and say, 'It is our national interest to respond,' you do not speak for us."
She detailed the horrors facing Syrian women, from assault to rape, to the killing of their families and the displacement from their homes. She, like the others who gathered at Pelosi's office, urged leaders and elected officials to think twice about the bombing campaign.
"We saw the U.S. kill civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places so why would bombing Syria be any different? We say, Not in our name," Santos told The Progressive on the sidelines of the protest after she spoke.
Some members of the Syrian Diaspora came out in favor of a forceful action.
Ramy Baloumi, a Syrian-American, spoke to the crowd and cautioned activists to not remain silent in the face of the destruction wrought by Bashar al-Assad's government.
"The Syrian government has bombed our homes, killed our friends and family. I urge you to do something. Help the people of Syria and do not remain silent in the face of this war against the rebellion," he told those gathered at Pelosi's office.
The mood on the streets, at least in the Bay Area, is against violence and war. The question for many, including Zanna, is how many people must speak up before America enters another war.
"We need people to stop being silent," she said. "Speak out and tell our leaders what we want done in our name. If we remain silent and do nothing, then what can we say?"