An emergency demonstration was held Sept. 10 in Philadelphia, Pa., when anti-war activists learned that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be in town to be awarded the “Liberty Medal” from the National Constitution Center. The protest, organized by ANSWER Philadelphia, the International Action Center and Philly Against War, demanded no war on Syria.
Activists were outraged that Clinton would be honored with an award after committing so many crimes against the people of the world. During her tenure as Secretary of States, the U.S. government backed coups in Honduras and Paraguay and continued the occupation of Afghanistan and the drone bombing of Pakistan. She was among the most aggressive voices pushing for war on Libya and as a Senator voted in favor of the Iraq War. Clinton is widely considered a frontrunner for the 2016 Presidential election and on Sept. 9 announced her support for the Obama administration’s plans to bomb Syria.
The picket chanted for the entire duration of the award ceremony. Favorites included “Hillary Clinton: Hands off Syria!” and “Wall Street says more war, we say no war!” Drawing attention to the education crisis in the city, protesters also chanted “Money for schools, not for war!”
The loud, outraged demonstration disrupted the award ceremony. Every pro-war speaker had to compete with anti-war chants, which could be heard loud and clear on stage and in the audience. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter was forced to acknowledge this uncomfortable situation during his speech, saying “We are experiencing... freedom of speech.” Clinton herself was forced to make an awkward comment about the demonstration being a “civics lesson.”
The vocal picket was featured prominently in media coverage of the event. What Clinton thought would be a simple public relations boost became an embarrassing reminder that the people of the United States overwhelmingly oppose war on Syria.