Calling for no more nukes: Protesters turn out for International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

View Photo Gallery
  • About 20 people take part in a standout in front of L3Harris Technologies on Prince Street in Northampton, Saturday, during a nationwide action to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Judy Hyde, left, of Northampton and Molly Hale of Florence take part in a standout on Elm and New South streets in Northampton on Saturday to protest nuclear weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mary Wilson of Northampton takes part in a standout in front of L3Harris Technologies on Prince Street in Northampton on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, during a nationwide action to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Maureen Flannery of Northampton takes part in a standout on Main and State streets in Northampton on Saturday during a nationwide action in opposition to nuclear weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Susan Lantz of Northampton takes part in a standout on Main and New South Streets in Northampton on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, during a nationwide action to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Miranda Groux, program director at The Resistance Center, leads about 20 people in chants outside of L3Harris Technologies on Prince Street in Northampton, Saturday, during a nationwide action to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jeannette Muzima of Northampton takes part in a standout in front of L3Harris Technologies on Prince Street in Northampton on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, during a nationwide action to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 9/27/2020 7:17:49 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Protesters took to street corners across the city on Saturday to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons by demanding that elected officials cut the country’s budget for nuclear weapons and reinvest into community needs.

Northampton wasn’t the only locality to participate in the “Cries from Every Corner” protests — similar events occurred in Amherst, Greenfield, Easthampton and Springfield. The day’s rallies also expanded to Illinois, Iowa, New York and California, according a statement released by one of the action’s organizers, The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice in Northampton.

“There’s nothing about [nuclear weapons] that makes us secure,” said activist Susan Lantz, who was one of the event’s organizers. “To the contrary, it destabilizes the world and makes us much more susceptible to a horrific holocaust.”

The Congressional Budget Office in 2019 projected that President Donald Trump’s administration’s current plans for United States nuclear forces would cost $494 billion between 2019 and 2028 for a yearly average of just under $50 billion. This $494 billion projection is $94 billion more than the budget office’s 2017 projection for 10-year costs, partly due to what it says are modernization programs. The Department of Defense budgeted a total of $712.6 billion for fiscal year 2020, according to the defense department’s budget request for fiscal year 2021.

The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons was declared by the United Nations in 2013 to raise public engagement around nuclear disarmament. The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been ratified by 45 countries; the United States is not one of them.

Standing on the corner of Main and New South streets on Saturday, Florence resident Molly Hale said that she had come to the protest because she wanted to support the international day to ban nuclear weapons. She said she’d like to see money spent on the military instead be given to renewable energy, education and affordable housing.

“I’m a climate activist, and so I’ve been working on that as the major crisis confronting us,” said Hale, who is part of a local climate action group. “But, in fact, nuclear weapons could also be the crisis that ends up being the one that does us all in.”

Maureen Flannery, of Northampton, said across the street from Hale that she would rather see schools, art programs, jobs, housing and health care be funded instead of nuclear weapons.

“Right now, there are so many things that are putting our world at risk,” Flannery said. “And nuclear weapons is one of them.”

Around 20 protesters converged on Prince Street outside one of defense contractor L3Harris Technologies’ branches on Saturday to not only protest nuclear weapons, but also to draw attention to the defense industry at large. When L3 Technologies and Harris Corp. merged in 2019, the company said it had created the sixth largest defense company in the country with around $17 billion in revenue.

According to L3Harris’ website, the publicly traded company “provides advanced defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space and cyber domains.” In a Gazette article from the time of the merger, an L3Harris official said that periscopes and electric-optic sensor systems for the U.S. Navy’s submarines and surface ships are designed, built and supported at the Northampton operation.

According to a 2013 Harris Corp. press release, the company struck a $45 million contract to support Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “tactical communications networks.” L3 Communications was subcontracted on a now-canceled agreement Boeing had with DHS to develop technology for the department’s Secure Border Initiative (SBI), which the aerospace company said in 2006 would help border agents detect potentially illegal activity at borders.

Some protesters took issue with these actions. Standing outside of L3Harris on Saturday, 22-year-old Hannah Begley, of Easthampton, said that “the pressing issue … is I don’t think anyone should be profiting off of war.”

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2020 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy