Demonstrators protest Syria strike plans

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Demonstrators converged on downtown Portland Monday, Sept. 9, 2013 -- protesting plans for an impending U.S. strike on Syria. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill Monday to begin debates on using military force in Syria.

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A protestor in downtown Portland Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, holds a sign calling for the end of plans for a U.S. military strike in Syria. (KOIN 6 News)

The Obama administration reports it has evidence proving Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime killed hundreds with poison gas.

But Assad denies his government used chemical weapons, and in an exclusive interview with CBS This Morning’s Charlie Rose, Al-Assad said any western military action will have consequences.

His interview comes at the same time as a new poll shows a majority of Americans do not support the president’s plan, including dozens who protested Monday in downtown Portland.

Demonstrators included veterans and members of several Portland-area anti-war organizations. They said they are determined to make it clear that most Oregonians are wary — and weary — of war.

“Violence begets violence,” said Erin, a demonstrator who said she was speaking on behalf of the Portland Oregon War Resistance.

Holding signs urging the president not to go to war, about 50 demonstrators  gathered outside the federal building in downtown Portland Monday. A group pushing a similar message convened near SW 5th and Hall in Beaverton.

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Erin, a demonstrator who said she was speaking on behalf of the Portland Oregon War Resistance, talks to KOIN 6 News Monday, Sept. 9, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

They all said the heartbreaking images of alleged  victims of Syria’s chemical weapons attack are not enough to send the United States into armed conflict.

“Either way you look at it, it’s a horrible thing,” said Ed Pete, pictured above right. “Who did it? I don’t know. What’s going on down there? I don’t know. But the answer is not to bomb Syria.”

U.S. President Barrack Obama is expected to make his case on Syria Tuesday at 6 p.m. on KOIN 6. These demonstrators will be watching.

But don’t expect his argument, or what Congress decides, to change their minds.

Members of Oregon’s congressional delegation are mostly either opposed to military action in Syria or undecided. Among those leaning toward a “no” vote — based upon their public statements at least — are Democratic house members Earl Blumenauer, Peter Defazio, Kurt Schrader and, as of Monday, Republican Greg Walden.

Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are undecided, though Wyden has made strong statements against Syria’s alleged chemical weapons attack. Democrat Suzanne Bonamici also appears undecided.

“Their power comes from our consent and our obedience and if they’d like to remain representatives of the people, they need to really speak for the people,” said Erin Niemela with the Portland War Resistance. “And what we’re saying today is ‘Absolutely no.’ No military action in Syria.”

This is the third protest in just two weeks. Demonstrators said they’ll be out again, if necessary.

— KOIN’s Ken Boddie contributed information used in this report.

Related resource:

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