CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Days after a rally at the state Capitol in favor of U.S. military involvement in Syria, more than 40 people gathered in downtown Charleston to demonstrate against a strike.
They held signs and waved to passing cars, many of which honked in support. They gathered on the north side of Kanawha Boulevard across from Haddad Riverfront Park, where hundreds were waiting in line to board the USS LST-325, a tank landing ship that saw battle in World War II.
"We wanted to be by the warship as a reminder of our country's military might," Gary Zuckett, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Action Group, said Sunday afternoon. "The United States has the strongest military in the world but we should be more prudent in our choices about how to use it."
The Rev. Jim Lewis, a retired Episcopal minister, was pleased with the turnout. The event was organized in about 24 hours and participants spread the word through email and social media.
The goal was to get Charleston residents to ask their representatives to vote against action in war-torn Syria. He said it's a nasty civil war that has no easy solution, especially not one that involves U.S. missiles.
"I feel for the president, I really do," Lewis said. "He's in a terrible place. I think in his heart he doesn't want to do this."
President Barack Obama announced Saturday during a press briefing at the White House he planned to ask Congress for approval before any military strike. Secretary of State John Kerry said in interviews on Sunday news shows the body of proof that Syria is using chemical weapons is growing, according to the Associated Press.
The Syrian government, under the leadership of President Bashar Assad, is believed to be using sarin, a toxic gas and liquid that affect the nervous system. It can be delivered in gas form in bombs, rockets, missiles or artillery shells and is outlawed under the international rules of warfare.
"They talk about a limited war, a limited strike," Lewis said. "We've seen time and time again that it doesn't work."
Lewis said a regional solution could be a good way to start in dealing with Syria. He said Syrian people have sought refuge in Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia among other nearby nations, and that those countries should get involved and work toward a resolution.
"I would like to think that if something like this was going on in my backyard I would do something about it," Lewis said of the Middle Eastern nations. "They know a little bit more about the situation there."
Zuckett said Obama did the right thing in asking Congress to weigh in. Doing so will also allow citizens the chance to have their voices heard.
"Assad is a butcher," Zuckett said. "He has absolutely no qualms in killing his own citizens, but the international community really needs to step up to the plate here. I don't feel that it's up to us to take up that role.
"We need to be rebuilding here at home, not bomb Syria. We need jobs but not those building bombs. We need to be building bridges and roads and schools here."