Arrests made during Syria protest in Tempe

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A protest in Tempe to oppose U.S. intervention in Syria got out of hand when Tempe police began arresting protesters on Saturday night.

About 50 protesters walking up and down the Mill Avenue bar district went from chanting about Syria to yelling about police abuses in the U.S. In a scene more reminiscent of the "occupy" movement, protesters stood just feet away from a line of Tempe bicycle and mounted police officers chanting, "this is what a police state looks like."

Tempe police said Steven Guy and Ashly Syslo were arrested for disorderly conduct, while Syslo was also facing a charge of marijuana possession.

A third person, Belia Salgado, was also arrested for interfering with a working animal after she allegedly pulled the tail of a police horse. Police said it did not appear as if Salgado was a part of the protests.

Earlier in the night, the group had assembled to raise awareness about the situation and Syria and oppose U.S. intervention in that country.

The demonstration comes on the heels of a speech by President Barack Obama where he asked Congress to authorize limited military action in Syria following reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons that killed more than 1,000 men, women and children.

"I feel America needs to worry about America right now. We're facing $17-trillion in debt and I feel that wars with anybody right now is just not the answer," said Patricia Jahner, also asking the President to remember he's the winner of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Marching on Mill, protesters chanting for peace included one man who said he fought as an American Army soldier in both Middle Eastern wars.

“It's not worth it. I don't want more dead buddies. I don't want any more missing limbs. I don't want more of my friends with broken souls,” said a protester who identified himself as Daniel, but didn’t want to give his last name.

A small counter-protest also formed in downtown Tempe with people who support American intervention in Syria. 

“Bashar al-Assad cannot rule Syria anymore. If [the killing] continues at the rate it's been going at for the last two years the numbers are going to keep rising and it's genocide. What's happening in Syria is genocide,” said Zana Alataar, who also said she has family members who have disappeared or been killed in the Syrian violence.

While those on both sides said they’re tired of war, some felt the United States has an obligation to intervene.

“We are tired of wars in the United States, absolutely, and it's been ongoing for 10 years. But the United States is the leader of the free world and we should not let somebody like Assad do what he did and go unnoticed – go unpunished,” said Zaki Lababidi, who also said he has family killed or kidnapped in the Syrian violence.

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Steven Guy was facing a marijuana charge