We Can Stop The Nuclear Nightmare

On August 8, 2018 the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to urge the United States to adopt the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to remove the U.S. President’s sole authority to launch a nuclear attack. On July 1, 2018, KBC Bank, one of the largest banks in Belgium, passed a resolution to exclude companies “involved in the production or development of nuclear weapons.” On June 17, 2018 the Northampton, MA Quakers Meeting House completely divested, personally and organizationally, from all banks that invest in nuclear weapons manufacturers.

If you think we can’t make a difference in our battle against PNC Bank, think again.

Every picket, every letter sent, every account closed brings our world a little closer to the safety we all deserve. Our growing movement is making a difference and we hope and expect that PNC Bank will divest of its more than 600 million dollars in loans to six nuclear weapons manufacturers, which includes notorious members of the Military Industrial Complex such as General Dynamics, Orbital ATK, and BWX Technologies.

In July, the Stop Banking the Bomb campaign held its fifteenth and sixteenth actions against PNC Bank.  On July 19th, we visited the PNC Tower Building in downtown Pittsburgh. The spirits of those present were buoyed as we handed out over 200 flyers and continued to make the public aware of how their deposits are being immorally used by PNC Bank. Every time we go to the PNC Tower, the police and PNC’s private security personnel keep a keen eye on us, even though we have never done anything but held respectful, peaceful pickets. This time around the head of security further limited our access to the streets surrounding the PNC Tower.

We know that PNC is scared of our band of non-violent peace warriors. The PNC Bank CEO has been seen at everyone of our protests at the Tower Building. William Demchak who makes 13 million dollars a year and manages a worldwide employee workforce of 54,000, must be very afraid if he attends all our protests. Certainly, a man of his stature has better things to do with his time than watch us march in front his building for an hour every few months. But we know that Demchak has something to worry about. He knows that movements like ours are powerful—much more powerful than his money or influence.

Nevertheless, we in the Stop Banking the Bomb campaign are not unaware of Demchak’s ability to use whatever resources he has to try to thwart our noble efforts. Demchak is notoriously well-known for his unscrupulous business practices. While at J.P. Morgan, Demchak was known by his peers as the “Prince of Darkness” for the ways he was willing to skirt ethical business practices to make more money for the capitalist class.

In an article from the New Yorker, writer John Lanchester reported, “Bill Demchak, a ‘structured finance’ star at J. P. Morgan, took the lead in creating bundles of credit-default swaps—insurance against default—and selling them to investors. The investors would get the streams of revenue, according to the risk-and reward level they chose; the bank would get insurance against its loans, and fees for setting up the deal.” Demchak’s brainchild was the start of the “sub-prime” scandal that cost U.S. taxpayers over 700 billion dollars in 2008. Instead of being in jail for defrauding the people, Bill Demchak was rewarded with the presidency of the nation’s seventh largest bank.

Our fight against PNC Bank and its investments in nuclear weapons manufacturers is an important and timely one. We must get the public to see how the Military Industrial Complex works to steal not only our tax dollars for death and destruction, but also our savings and deposits in for-profit banks that care nothing about people. PNC Bank will put profit above all of us, even if that means nuclear annihilation.

But we can fight! And we can win! Others have, and so can we!

At the March for Peace on August 25th, we will again highlight PNC’s investment in nuclear weapons manufacturers as we march with hundreds through the streets of Oakland. We hope that more new people will join our dedicated team of activists who regularly participate in our demonstrations and pickets.

We will get PNC Bank to “Stop Banking the Bomb!”

Keeping The Pressure On

We are ramping up our efforts to bring public awareness to PNC’s immoral and illegal financial investment in weapons of mass destruction.

On Saturday, October 13th, there will be pickets/rallies in four cities across our region. In Pittsburgh, we will be at the Shadyside PNC, while other groups will be in Dayton, OH, Philadelphia, PA, and Lancaster, PA. We will also soon be posting the schedule of our pickets through May 2019 here in Pittsburgh area.

We will not end this campaign until PNC: Stops Banking the Bomb!

SBTB: One Year Anniversary

It was one year ago that our campaign held its first event.

Yesterday at our planning meeting we celebrated our one year anniversary. We recommitted ourselves to continue our efforts to get PNC to Stop Banking the Bomb.

Last year we held over 20 actions against PNC, and we will be hosting at least 24 more actions in the year to come in the Pittsburgh area. Other cities and locations are committing to hold actions as well.

Join the fight against the US’s weapons of mass destruction and the banks that finance them.

There Is Hope In Peace by Larry McKay

(The following is a guest post by Larry McKay of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). This is Larry’s powerful speech given at the Pittsburgh March for Peace on August 25, 2018, in front of the Software Engineering Institute, not far from Carnegie Mellon University.)

Hello, my name is Larry McKay, I’m a native Pittsburgher and a member of Students for a Democratic Society at Carnegie Mellon University. Our chapter of SDS has been working on creating more public discussion surrounding CMUs relationship with the Department of Defense.

The Software Engineering Institute, which we are gathered in front of today, is just one CMU research and development facility, funded by the US military to create the warfighters of tomorrow, including autonomous land vehicles and drones. Moreover, CMU is a major recruitment hub for the largest arms manufacturers in the world. Companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Electric are always scouting for new talent and the CMU
administration is always a welcoming host.

This research, development, and recruitment for the United States military apparatus must be appreciated in the context of the abject failure of US foreign policy to promote peace, and the security of its citizens. Jihadi terrorism has in fact spread since the declaration of the war on terror in 2001. Much of the Middle East and North Africa have become increasingly destabilized, and although the grand rhetoric of many would indicate otherwise, people outside of the United States do not see us as a bringer of democracy, but a bringer of violence and destruction; an
occupying foreign invader; a superpower drunk with its own military might.

Despite the grim, and at times unbearable nature, of seemingly endless wars, today as I have the privilege and freedom to stand with you all, and march for the sake of a lasting peace, I find the overwhelming emotion to be, not despair, but hope.

As long as there are individuals gathered in the spirit of solidarity, there is hope. As long as there are individuals willing to stand together, to express their collective dissent and offer up their combined energies for social change, there is hope. Such engagement, if it is sustained and creative, could bring the war machine to a screeching halt. As long as people resist, and love, and reason, there is hope that diplomacy will triumph over hot-headed aggression.

For those wavering between hope and despair for the prospects of peace, I ask you to draw inspiration from the brave individuals you see yourself surrounded by today. For those wavering between hope and despair, I ask you to consider that this march today is just one small part of a rising resistance movement – a movement that contains the germs of a peaceful world. For those wavering between hope and despair, I ask you, to pick hope even if only for today – even if it hurts, even if you’re afraid of being let down again, even if you’ve given up hope a long time
ago, today pick hope.

Hope is what movements for social change are organized around – shared hopes for the future; wild hopeful visions of freedom, equality, and the blossoming of human personality. Today we must strengthen our hope for peace, and use it to propel us towards that perfect end.

 

Stop Banking the Bomb: the Peace Movement’s Frankenstein

By Anonymous

There are plenty of banks in the world that do bad things.  There are banks that steal from their customers.  There are banks that launder money for cocaine cartels.[i]  There are banks that ruin economies.[ii]  PNC Bank, the 7th largest bank in the United States headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, chooses to invest in nuclear weapons to make money.[iii]  PNC is certainly not the only financier of the war industry, nor is war profiteering the only sin they commit. However, if nuclear abolition is ever going to occur, banks like PNC need to understand that they cannot support nuclear weaponry without receiving pushback from the community they claim to love.  To teach PNC this lesson, a coalition of activists in Pittsburgh started a campaign called Stop Banking the Bomb (SBTB) that is quickly spreading across the country.

SBTB began when peace activists in Pittsburgh began to ask questions about how we could genuinely prevent world war III from occurring.  No longer could we just hold rallies outside of federal buildings or write letters to corrupt congressmen asking them to sign a petition.  And we certainly couldn’t wait for the NGO’s to get the coveted ban on nuclear weapons they promise year after year. We needed real change and we needed it fast because Donald Trump has access to nuclear weapons and is legit fucking insane.

After doing a moderate amount of research, the answer of how to stop a nuclear war became very clear: banks.  Without banks, there would be no credit for defense contractors to fund their ambitious billion-dollar projects that make the world safe for capitalism. Banks also play a crucial role in funding the campaigns of pro-war politicians because those same politicians support repealing financial regulation that allows banks to make more money with more risk.  Without these two components of finance capital and political authorization, the military industrial complex would not be able to survive.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has produced several reports called “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” that measure the involvement of finance capital in the nuclear arms industry.  The report lists over a hundred banks that provide loans to defense contractors who service and maintain nuclear weapons.[iv]  The 2018 report listed PNC as providing loans for over 600 million dollars to seven companies involved in the nuclear arms industry.[v]  Those companies included: Aecon, BWX Technologies, General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls, Jacobs Engineering, Orbital ATK, and Textron.  The 2016 report quoted PNC’s involvement at close to 900 million because they included other factors such as bonds and financial services that PNC provided to the contractors.[vi]

Right now the contractors listed above and other players in the defense industry are feeding off of projects such the Ground-Based Defense Deterrent program and the Trident II submarine warhead which represent the efforts at nuclear arsenal “modernization” that many have probably heard about on the news.[vii]  These “delivery systems” are two parts of the U.S. “nuclear triad” which includes intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched warheads, and air-based bombers (e.g. B-2s and B-52s).[viii]  Contractors that PNC has financial ties to work on things like maintenance of silos, missile guidance systems, production of nuclear material, propulsion systems, and missile design. [ix] Wonderful things with innocuous names that will cause terrible destruction for the innocent people they will be eventually used against.[x]

PNC Bank, whose official title is PNC Financial Services, plays a key role in the Pittsburgh oligarchy.  Not only does PNC have its name on the stadium that the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team plays out of (PNC Park), but they also have several skyscrapers in downtown Pittsburgh and sponsor numerous community festivals.  Every student ID for the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University has a PNC logo on the back because PNC handles student financial aid accounts for all those universities. In short, PNC is the face of banking in Pittsburgh and what they do reflects on Pittsburgh.  So when people in Pittsburgh ask PNC to stop investing in nuclear weapons, we would hope they would at least listen.

In the beginning, the campaign made a good faith effort to meet with a delegation from PNC to discuss how they could begin the process of withdrawing from these companies.  What the campaign soon discovered was that PNC only wanted to stall the campaign from any escalatory tactics, mislead us into thinking that PNC wasn’t the bank they should be going after, and ultimately keep the campaign built around backroom lobbying sessions that describe what many NGO’s and community groups do in these situations.  When SBTB decided to hold a planned picket outside PNC Tower (the aptly named downtown headquarters in Pittsburgh) and when an SBTB member wrote an article on the action in the Party for Socialism and Liberation’s paper Liberation, the PNC delegation withdrew from any future talks with SBTB and labeled us as too rigid to deal with before even making an offer for us to turn down.

Since PNC has written us off, we have done pickets in front of their bank branches across southwestern Pennsylvania and in Morgantown, New York City, and Washington D.C.  Our last major action was at the PNC shareholders meeting where people inside publicly questioned Demchak about the bank’s involvement in nuclear weapons while protestors outside decried PNC actions to the public.  Our local newspapers incorrectly cited the action as the product of “faith groups” without mentioning the larger campaign that we have repeatedly cited in both in person interviews along with press releases, flyers, buttons, and signs.  The mainstream media which will often cover spectacle does not want to explain the larger reasons for why movements do what they do.

While the campaign does include members of the faith community, along with members of hardcore communist groups that are difficult to get along with at times, there are also members of other socialist, peace, anarchist, and community groups that make up the campaign.  This work belongs to no individual or group.  The campaign is a Frankenstein of organizations that for a long time have been ignored by the U.S. Left who embraced war under Democratic presidents like Obama and Clinton in favor of other issues given higher priorities.  Only this time, the movement that is forming now under Trump isn’t going to stop when he leaves the White House.

Stop Banking the Bomb is now endorsed by close to 40 different organizations from around the country and it is quickly growing.  The reason why is because there is no barrier to entry.  People who want to join do not need to subscribe to any tendency, religion, or affinity group.  There are no leaders, there is only the idea that nuclear weapons are a threat to mankind and that we must prevent their usage at all cost.  Some people chose to write letters, speak at events, some hold pickets, some do banner drops…do what you want….but don’t allow the banks to get away with the end of the world.

Visit stopbankingthebomb.org to read about our campaign and to find out how you can join us in pressuring PNC to Stop Banking the Bomb.

Also check out the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report from ICAN and PAX to see if your local bank is on the list of organizations giving money to the nuclear arms industry: https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com.

————————————————————————-

[i] https://www.businessinsider.com/how-wachovia-laundered-billions-in-mexican-drug-money-2011-4
[ii] https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-195229/
[iii] https://www.bankrate.com/banking/americas-top-10-biggest-banks/#slide=1
[iv] https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/
[v] https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/2018-report/
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] https://armscontrolcenter.org/factsheet-the-nuclear-triad/
[viii] Ibid.
[ix] https://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/nuclear-weapon-producers/

STOP BANKING THE BOMB, MOVE YOUR MONEY!

STOP BANKING THE BOMB, MOVE YOUR MONEY!

PNC invests in nuclear weapons. Until they agree to stop, don’t bank with PNC!

Here are some resources to help you move your money from banks that invest in nuclear weapons:

Find a Credit Union near you: www.culookup.com

or a Community Development Credit Union: cdcu.coop

On average, credit unions offer higher saving interest rates and lower loan interest rates than regular banks. Credit unions also usually charge lower fees and require lower deposit balances.

Find a Community Bank near you: icba.org

Community banks help drive local economies and create local jobs. Community banks make more than 50 percent of small business loans.

Here is a link to the PDF of our Move Your Money handout to give to your friends.