Another Tax Day is here, and once again we are being asked to foot the bill for endless wars and enormous increases to an already outrageous military budget. This, at a time when teachers must hold multiple jobs to make ends meet, infrastructure everywhere is crumbling, health care isn’t considered a human right, our government refuses to mitigate climate change, and youth must contend with mountains of college debt. Did you know the U.S. spends more on creating weapons of mass destruction than we do on foreign aid, diplomacy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program combined?
If you’re feeling the Tax Day blues like me, I have good news: it’s within our means to divest from the war machine and bring our tax dollars back to our communities, and I can help! The Divest from the War Machine coalition is putting tools in the hands of community members who want to fund positive projects instead of the companies making a killing on killing.
Interested? Check out our monthly Divest Digest below and learn about some of our campaigns and victories and then join the campaign by checking the “divest from the war machine” box on this page. I can’t wait to get you plugged into our grassroots work to pull the rug out from under the war machine!
Thanks to you, the coalition to Divest from the War Machine is growing and gaining ground across the country. Local teams are active in several cities, states, and universities. Our Congressional representatives and presidential candidates are committing to refuse campaign contributions from weapons manufacturers. Mayors are committing to work on divestment in their cities, and voices all over the country calling for deep cuts to military spending are rising. Folks everywhere recognize the time is ripe to move our money from war and killing and back into life-affirming projects. We’re thrilled Congress has voted to use the War Powers Act to end our involvement with the Saudi war on Yemen—we know it's a hail mary, but we haven't given up hope yet that Trump will sign it into law. As we saw with the horrific bombing of a school bus in Yemen killing 44 innocent children, our weapons are used to commit war crimes.
Now that the 2020 presidential race is underway, we’ve started asking the candidates to commit to refusing donations from weapons makers. While we were in Washington D.C. last week, we asked the Bernie Sanders campaign to commit, and they were excited to say yes! Look for an action coming soon to help us get all the other candidates to follow Bernie’s lead.
Last fall we asked the CEO and members of the board of Amalgamated Bank to divest the bank from the war machine. We’re happy to report they took our good advice! In February Amalgamated Bank moved the money they had in weapons and created a policy that “prohibits lending to weapons manufacturers”, and they now offer weapons free investment products as a service.
Local divest from war teams are kicking their work into high gear! The campaign in Oregon to divest the state public employee retirement system is adding local projects to their to-do list, and we now have sub-teams working on divestment from war in Portland, Corvallis, and Eugene, Oregon. Next up we’ll be connecting folks in Southern Oregon to work on divestment there. Email me at [email protected] if you live in the area and want to join the team!
Meanwhile, activists in Philadelphia and Seattle have held divestment planning meetings and are beginning to connect with other local grassroots activists and research local targets. We’re looking for folks to help us start new campaigns in Baltimore, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, and in Stockton, California. Do you live in one of these cities? Email me at [email protected] and I’ll get you connected.
Many of you signed up to ask your mayor to commit to working on divestment in your city. If you haven’t yet signed up and want to help, please fill out this form to let us know. We’ll connect you with other activists in your community to build power from the bottom-up and get your mayor to sign!
On the East Coast, we’ve been busy divesting the largest city in the U.S. from war! We held a powerful demonstration against the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) for honoring Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, leading funder of private prisons. It was a movement to demand that ALL of our cultural institutions and museums stop profiting off of state violence. In commemoration of the 16th anniversary of the Iraq war, we held a demonstration against military recruitment of students at Borough of Manhattan Community College. To ensure our tax dollars aren’t spent on the military budget we teamed up with Peace Action Manhattan and Peace Action New York State to learn how to better ensure that our tax dollars are spent on social benefits like education and healthcare. With that, our Move the Money-NYC campaign is launching a letter-writing project aimed at our City Council Members in support of Resolution 747 to call on the federal government to move funds away from the military budget to fund our human needs. We’re also getting our voices heard by demonstrating against BlackRock, which invests billions of dollars in weapons manufacturers, on May 3rd at 9 am at their Headquarters. Come learn about how you can get involved by emailing our local organizer at [email protected]!
On March 12th, retired public school teachers Jef Schultz and Susan Witka, CODEPINK co-founder Jodie Evans, and CODEPINK organizer Nancy Mancias met with California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) External Affairs Director Diane Stanton and other CalSTRS staff members. We shared the teachers’ serious concerns about their pension fund making millions by investing in war profiteer General Dynamics, a company responsible for killing innocent civilians around the world- including women and children. Read Jef’s moving speech to CalSTRS. With the teacher’s support, we have been able to move CalSTRS to investigate these investments. This is a huge victory! This month, CalSTRS is now scheduled to meet with General Dynamics, and we want to make sure the teachers’ concerns are represented at that meeting. Support California teachers and send a letter to the editor and a message to CalSTRS to divest from General Dynamics.
In March, CODEPINK participated in the Pacific Life Community resistance retreat in Menlo Park, California. The 3-day retreat was spent deepening our commitment to resisting the war economy. Bruce Gagnon was a featured keynote speaker, and Emma’s Revolution provided songs of peace and resistance. CODEPINK activists Cynthia Papermaster, Nancy Mancias, and Carley Towne led a Divest from the War Machine workshop. The retreat culminated in a direct action civil disobedience at the Lockheed Martin plant in Santa Clara, California.
On April 2, the CODEPINK LA team hosted a Divest from War teach-in at UCLA to draw attention to the fact that the University of California’s investment firm, Blackrock, makes billions of dollars every year by investing in weapons companies. We also drew the connection between UCLA and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink, who is a UCLA alumnus and in whose name UCLA is hosting an upcoming investing conference for future business leaders. We invited everyone at the teach-in to join us on Monday, April 15th from 11-12:30 to protest Blackrock, and ask that the UC system divests from all weapons manufacturers. This protest is just the beginning of a growing movement to divest from war at UCLA and all UC campuses! E-mail [email protected] if you’re interested in getting more involved.
Palestinians in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis caused by the 12-year illegal Israeli blockade and frequent attacks by the Israeli military. Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest weapons company, instrumental in the blockade, has brought it’s surveillance and war-making technologies to the cycling community in the form of the Everysight Raptor, “augmented reality” glasses — glasses built with the same technology that Elbit provides for fighter jets that terrorize the residents of Gaza.On Saturday, April 13, CODEPINK rallied with California activists in Monterey at the Sea Otter Classic, the world’s largest cycling event which hosted Everysight to promote their Raptor glasses. The group delivered 2500 petition signatures to the Sea Otter Classic urging event organizers to support Palestinian human rights by canceling Everysight’s involvement. Join the campaign to divest cycling from war by calling on cycling stores and events to Boycott Everysight!
Toward a weapons free world,
Maya and the CODEPINK Divest from War team