SCOTIA The edges of Kathrine Lederman’s construction paper sign were soggy, and the blue and red markers she used to get her message across had begun to run. Her blonde hair was held back in a ponytail, slick with rain.
“It’s better since it was raining,” she said. “Then people will think that we take it more seriously because we’re standing out in the rain.”
At 10, the Guilderland girl was taking part in her first protest. Cars and trucks beeped at her and about 30 other people of all ages at the busy intersection of Mohawk and Schonowee avenues, across from Jumpin’ Jack’s Drive-In. They stood along the sidewalk by Collins Park, in both downpours and light drizzle, for several hours Saturday afternoon, holding up signs and flags emblazoned with peace signs and pleas against the United States attacking Syria.
President Barack Obama said Saturday he would seek Congressional authorization for a targeted military action against Syrian targets. The move, he said, would be in response to the regime of Bashar Assad using chemical weapons that killed more than 1,000 citizens, including hundreds of children. He detailed his plan on the same day that rallies were organized in hundreds of cities and towns, including Scotia and Albany, against military involvement in the civil war-torn country.
Kathrine didn’t know all the repercussions of such a move, but she heard the news on the radio Friday and became curious about what it all meant.
“She asked what I thought, and I don’t even remember what I said, but I gave her the background on it,” said her father, Ed. “And this morning, she heard about this rally on the news and asked me if she could go. I would be sitting at home if it wasn’t for her.”
The girl who grew up wearing peace-sign shirts and jewelry made her sign Saturday morning. Above a red-white-and-blue peace sign, she colored in the words “Keep” and “the.”
The Scotia rally boasted more people than Emily Costa ever expected to show up. She stood at the intersection Saturday with her clothes drenched, her hair soaked, and her feet bare. The 17-year-old Schenectady High School student said all she really hoped when she organized the rally was to stand outside holding signs with a few friends. But as word of the rally spread, she grew heartened to see how many people in the community took an interest.
“A lot of people have come,” she said, visibly excited, “and people that didn’t say they were going to come on Facebook have just shown up because of all the media. There are a lot of kids from my school, but a lot of these people are also from local peace organizations. I didn’t expect it to escalate to something this big.”
Her boyfriend, 19-year-old Samson Audino, of Rotterdam, is the one who sparked her interest in politics and social causes. A passionate supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, he said Saturday it’s important for him to stand and protest so people can see and not just hear about his devotion to the cause.
“We’re walking our talk,” he said. “A lot of people think we might all be left wing here, but we have people from all over the spectrum. We have conservatives, liberals. Libertarians are here, I’m sure. It’s great that we can band together for this cause.”
Military intervention would be a bad idea in Syria, Audino said, because it inevitably ends in more violence, no matter where it happens.
“You can’t make these huge decisions involving lives of our troops, lives of innocent civilians in the Middle East, so carelessly,” he said. “Obama doesn’t even have much of a definite plan. He hasn’t defined victory. He hasn’t defined what our objectives are.”
It’s America attempting to take over the world, said Felice Ford. The 36-year-old Duanesburg woman said the country has no authority to serve as the world’s police force.
“I don’t think there’s any win here,” she said. “There are two sides of evil, and we’re going to choose one of them to fight alongside and obliterate the other side? There’s no sense here.”