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Activists, Leaders Rally Throughout Philadelphia In Solidarity With Ukraine: 'War Is Not The Answer'

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Activists and public officials rallied Friday afternoon in solidarity with Ukrainians against Russian aggression. They are asking for more support for their native country.

"Will America stand for Ukraine? Yes! Will you stand for Ukraine? Yes!" the crowd chanted.

Well over 200 local Ukrainians and their supporters protested outside of Philadelphia City Hall Friday afternoon.

"The fact that we still have to deal with a bully like Russia and people like Putin, it's heartbreaking for us," local Ukrainian Sandra Zarichny said.

Many were draped in Ukrainian flags. Even the youngest amongst them also showed support for a land now under attack by Russia.

"We are not going back," Ukrainian-American activist Mary Kalyna said. "We are not going back to that terrible time of imprisonment and torture and arrests and executions and starvation."

And as the invasion continues, they're asking for America to do more for their home country.

"We have no legal or moral right to wait. That's why President Biden needs to act now. The sanctions have to be stronger," honorary consul general of Ukraine in Philadelphia Iryna Mazur said.

The Philadelphia area is home to thousands of people of Ukrainian descent. Leading up to the conflict local Ukrainians were asking for Americans to pray for them, to be informed of the conflict, and to support the humanitarian crisis that's unfolding.

"People are literally being murdered in their homes and so it's the least I can do to come out and have my little sign and show my support," supporter Tonya Mayux said.

Many people at Friday's rally still have family in Ukraine. They say they're fearful for their loved ones' safety but say they support their reason to not leave.

"They are standing up. They're tired. It's been eight years of this war. It's been eight years and they are tired of the bullying and they are standing up for their land, their house," local Ukrainian Oksana Yarychkivska said.

The rally was hosted by the Honorary Consul General of Ukraine in Philadelphia. This is the same group that hosted a rally at the Art Museum last month leading up to Russia's invasion.

Councilman David Oh sponsored a resolution that passed City Council unanimously prior to the invasion.

"The resolution was Philadelphia stands with Ukraine, and it is really based on the principle that we just talked about, that no individual can be free all by themselves, and so no nation can be free all by itself. If freedom-loving people do not stand together, the freedom-loving nations do not stand together, then the ideals of freedom can be lost," Oh said.

Meanwhile, Sofia Sulligan stood with her family, along with many others, in solidarity with Ukraine outside the Unitarian Society of Germantown Church on Friday night.

Sulligan says one of her family members had to leave their home and move elsewhere for safety.

"I asked them if they will go to Poland and they said, 'For what? To sit for three days in car line to get there and what are going to do be a target just sitting there?' It's horrible," Sulligan said.

Others held signs and lined the sidewalk showing support for Ukraine.

"War is not the answer," one woman said.

"Ukraine deserves its freedoms, they really, really do," another woman said.

"War is always super destructive, super inhuman, and turns people into killing machines," a man said.

Many say seeing the devastation and destruction unfold overseas is painful to watch.

"Personally, my heart is breaking for the people of Ukraine and Russia," one woman said.

"I feel that we are so isolated and insulated and spoiled here and if we all step away and step up and maybe we can make a huge difference," Jody Hill said.

CBS3's Howard Monroe and Kerri Corrado contributed to this report.

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