Cardboard signs, painted banners and restive chants are common among the college set, whose youth and energetic spirit practically demand at least one experience at a rally, protest or sit-in.
Emily Costa decided to get a head start on her activism. The 17-year-old Schenectady High School student is spearheading a local rally against military intervention in Syria to take place Saturday at 2 p.m. And as teenagers (and more and more adults) are wont to do these days, she has garnered most of her support for the event through Facebook.
“A lot of us are coming from different background and opinions,” said Costa. “But I said, look, no matter what ideology you support, as long as you support no war, you should come to this.”
The plan is for her and several dozen classmates, friends and adults, armed with signs and banners, to speak out against war to passersby at the intersection of Route 50 and Mohawk Avenue near Collins Park in Scotia. She estimates anywhere from 20 to 50 people will show up, based on Facebook response to the event.
Originally, she had planned to hold the rally at Schenectady County Community College, before realizing the better visibility would likely be at a gateway into Schenectady.
As far as rallies and protests are concerned, Albany tends to be a popular locale for getting the message out. Costa knows this, as well, as she attended the first big gun rally at the Capitol earlier this year. But after most of her 17 years spent not getting involved in politics or national news, the newly minted activist decided she wanted to bring some of that outcry and passion to her hometown.
“I would say in the past year I’ve gotten really involved in this stuff,” she said. “Growing up, I used to talk to my grandfather, who was in the Navy, about U.S. history and politics and everything. But I never paid attention to modern politics.”
The 2012 election sparked an interest for her, though. Her boyfriend was a big supporter of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty, and the more she researched about the Texas Republican, the more she became interested in politics.
“I went to a local Campaign for Liberty meeting,” she said. “I started doing my research.”
As President Obama prepared to move ahead with a military strike on Syria this week, the public remained divided on whether military intervention would be the answer to chemical attacks on innocent citizens. The British Parliament voted against any such action Thursday, and Russia is blocking a vote in the United Nations Security Council.
Several dozen are also slated to attend a protest Saturday in Albany to speak out against war with Syria. The event is slated to kick off at 12:30 p.m. in Townsend Park, according to a Facebook page created for the event.
The reasons against military intervention listed on both event pages are varied. But a shared concern can only be described as war fatigue. After wars with Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, thousands of American deaths and casualties overseas, the public appears wary of any involvement that could potentially drag out for years to come.
“I don’t think it’s fair for Obama to make decisions without congressional approval, and I don’t think we should be fighting a war that’s not in our defense,” said Costa. “That’s not really our place. We’re trying to police the world, and I don’t think it’s worth losing more American lives and more innocent Syrian lives.”