Local anti-war organizations gathered in Downtown Asheville, North Carolina, on Jan 22 to demand the U.S. government sign a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was drafted back in 2017 but only went into effect this past January. The U.N. treaty outlaws the production, testing, acquisition, possession and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
Although the protest was primarily focused on nuclear proliferation, these recent demonstrations spearheaded by Veterans for Peace, are part of a larger movement in opposition to Raytheon’s plans to bring a plant to Asheville. The coalition of progressive organizations has been consistently mobilizing for weeks now under the slogan “Reject Raytheon”.
The plant is being built by Pratt & Whitney, which is a subsidiary of Raytheon specializing in aerospace related products. The plant will produce parts for the F-35 stealth fighter. The venture is being sold to residents of Ashville as a $650 million investment that will bring 800 jobs to the area.
Although Asheville has a predominantly tourism-based economy, that has been devastated by COVID-19, many locals are still saying they do not want Raytheon’s blood money jobs.
“This is beyond disappointing. Asheville is a town that touts itself as being progressive but there’s nothing progressive about the business of murder,” said Kay, a local teacher, to Liberation News.
“Local politicians from both parties see this deal as reason to celebrate, and for them I guess it is. This is what they do; make war against the poor of the world,” said another protester.
In a deal negotiated behind closed doors without public input well over a year ago, Buncombe County Commissioners agreed to provide Pratt and Whitney with a $27 million so-called “economic incentive package.”
This “incentive package”—really a massive bribe paid to one of the most notorious war profiteers in the United States—will hand over nearly $35,000 in local taxpayer money for each job the military industrial behemoth is promising to provide at the new production facility.
Meanwhile, Buncombe county residents face one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the country and an ever-deepening pandemic crisis with no relief in sight. The priorities of the local political leadership and indeed the entire capitalist system could not be more apparent; profits over people and the war machine above all else.