(December 23, 2020) — As we reflect on 2020, let’s remember it wasn’t all bad. Despite COVID, we managed to come together and find creative ways to continue to take on the war machine.
In January of 2020, we united peacemakers in over 200 cities across the world, including Osaka, Japan, for the International Day of Action against war with Iran.
So take a breath, and remember we started this year stopping World War III!
But you did so much more…
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our call to divest from war and invest in our local communities became even more urgent, and we had to reimagine our organizing strategies radically. In partnership with World Beyond War, we hosted a five-part Divest from the War Machine Webinar Series, which brought together seasoned activists and people new to the peace movement.
Tax Day looked a little different this year. We participated in a social media storm and practised physical distancing while maintaining social solidarity by asking our community where they would #MovetheMoneyTo from war to universal healthcare, education, or housing for all.
2020 was the year of the car caravan and socially-distanced protests! Together we managed to stay engaged in our local communities while staying safe. On July 4th, we caravaned to say there is no true freedom until we are free from war! We also joined our coalition partners to demonstrate on September 26th, the International Day to Eliminate all Nuclear Weapons.
2020 was also a historic year for our work to Defund the Pentagon and invest in our local communities. We supported two important efforts to cut the Pentagon budget. In June, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced House Resolution 1003 to cut the Pentagon budget by $350 billion and thousands of peace activists urged their representatives to co-sponsor the bill, too!
Then, we helped achieve something important: after we made our voices heard, 113 members of Congress voted for historic legislation which would have cut the Pentagon budget by 10%. While the vote failed, it paved the way for the creation of the first-ever Defense Spending Reduction Caucus led by Congressman Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee. You can take action urging your representative to join the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus here!
And every month, an increasing number of local politicians, universities, organizations and cities choose to prioritize people and planet over war profits by divesting from war. Read on to be inspired by work that continues to happen around the country to divest our cities, schools, and elected officials from the war machine.
MAJOR Victory in Germany! Thanks to the tireless work of Elsa Rassbach, the German military will not be allowed to use armed drones. This is the result of a sustained campaign against German killer drones which brought together Drone Whistleblowers and Veterans. “Here in Germany some people are saying they cannot think of any peace movement struggle in recent years that has won such a striking victory”, Elsa said. “This brings hope to the whole peace movement.”
2020 had some major municipal divestment wins—In just 6 months, grassroots activists in San Luis Obispo, CA succeeded in divesting their city from the war machine. This past August, thanks to the hard work of passionate local organizers, San Luis Obispo City Council voted 5-0 to divest from weapons manufacturers. In doing so, San Luis Obispo set a national example by rejecting the influence of the war economy and joined the ranks of leading cities like Berkeley, CA, Washington, DC, Santa Monica, CA and Charlottesville VA. Read more here to learn how you can divest your city too!
In NYC, along with special guest Congresswoman Barbara Lee, We joined the Move the Money Campaign in NYC to host a virtual Town Hall to promote efforts to pass New York City Council Res. 747-A. For the first time, this resolution will put New York City on record demanding that the funds that are squandered on the Pentagon be instead redirected to our real problems. One-third of the City Council has already co-sponsored, and we are gearing up to get the rest on board! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to get your City Council member on board!
In Philadelphia, activists continue their push to divest the city’s pension fund from nuclear weapons, and the movement grows every month. The Divest Philly coalition is organizing to demand the Pension Fund divest from nuclear weapons! Help this effort by taking action now and sign your organization on to the campaign to join the coalition. You can also contact Cody@codepink.org or Greta@worldbeyondwar.org to join their action teams.
In Chicago, activists are demanding that the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund come clean about the fund’s investments, which have shown to have been invested in weapons companies in at least the recent past. So far, all communications with the City and the Fund staff have been met with a complete lack of transparency, and it is past time that the City release this legally public information. Sign the petition to divest the City and reach out to get more involved.
Activists across Oregon have been actively working to demilitarize their cities in many different ways. Corvallis activists continue their efforts to pass a divestment resolution with City Council. Portland activists continue their campaign to insert International Human Rights language into the City’s business procurement process to prohibit companies involved in occupation and war being awarded contracts.
Other organizations have banded together to demand the City end its practice of using Federal police equipment and training, especially after a summer of terror inflicted on local activists by Federal troops. Help this effort by signing the petition and stay tuned for an online event to take further action in early January!
There is much to celebrate for city divestment victories in 2020, but there is still so much work to do! If you or your organization are looking to start or support a divestment campaign in your city or state, reach out to email@example.com. We’re excited to plug you on where we can or to help you start something totally new!
The year 2020 radically altered the way universities operate — and while students still struggle to pay for tuition and housing costs amidst a pandemic and economic downturn, the misplaced priorities of universities are becoming more evident than ever. Instead of investing in student needs, universities continue to invest in weapons companies and profit from militarized violence.
It’s time for universities to start aligning their investment practices with student values — that’s why we’re calling for all universities to divest from weapons companies, policing and surveillance systems, and the militarization of our streets. Sign our petition here if you want universities to stop fueling the military-industrial complex!
This year, we also released a new and improved University Divestment Guide that provides tools and strategies for launching (and winning) a successful university divestment campaign. If you’re a college student, staff, professor, or alumni interested in organizing for divestment, reach out to Kelsey@codepink.org. We’re here to help guide you through the divestment process and provide support along the way!
Though we can’t organize in person anymore, the pandemic hasn’t put a dent in student organizing—in fact, students are more energized than ever to take on the war machine. University divestment campaigns are emerging across the country, from coast to coast.
In Los Angeles, student activists at UCLA and other University of California campuses are organizing to divest the entire University of California school system from the war machine! This year, a student-led coalition called UC Divest emerged to bring together various organizations in demanding that the statewide UC system divest from weapons manufacturers, which includes no longer using BlackRock as their investment manager. Sign on to the petition opposing the University of California’s investments in war.
Tune in to our radio show to learn more about the UC Divest campaign and why it’s essential to divest from war profiteers!
In Claremont, California students at Pitzer College are also working to divest their university from BlackRock! CODEPINK’s Nancy Mancias hosted a webinar with the students, who discussed their campaign to divest from the world’s largest asset manager and invest in their core values which you can see here.
Portland State University students and members of the community united to end PSU’s relationship with Boeing. The world’s most powerful weapons company partners with the school’s Global Supply Chain Management program to provide internships in order to funnel students into management positions at the company. A movement on and off-campus is growing to end this means of recruiting students into the war machine, and it brought out many on the July Tax Day (pictured above) to make its demand heard. Sign the petition for PSU to cut ties with Boeing!
In New York, the student body of Columbia University unanimously voted in favor of divesting from all companies profiting from Israeli apartheid, including the top 5 weapons companies. Unsurprisingly, Columbia’s administration is placing profit over people and refusing to implement divestment, publicly dismissing the unanimous democratic vote.
In response, student organizations at Columbia like Jewish Voice for Peace, Students for Justice in Palestine, and Columbia Apartheid Divest are joining together to demand that Columbia listen to student voices. Want to support the campaign? Email Kelsey@codepink.org to get involved with divestment organizing at Columbia and throughout New York City!
In early-2020, BlackRock announced a new set of investment policies that aimed to put climate change and sustainability at the center of BlackRock’s business model. However, we found the announcement too good to be true, which is why we remain vigilant in ensuring BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink practice what they preach. While this was a first step towards holding BlackRock accountable, our job is still not done.
BlackRock continues to make a killing on killing by investing billions in weapons and private prisons; because of these investments, we held a global online protest to counter BlackRock’s annual general meeting. CODEPINK attended the meeting to offer an alternative narrative to their investment dealings and apply pressure to BlackRock on its lack of human rights policies.
Even though the novel coronavirus has halted most large-scale BlackRock protests, we have held small social distancing demonstrations. We knew that BlackRock’s executives were on the shortlist to join the Biden administration. We made it our responsibility to let President-elect Biden and the rest of the Democratic Party know that BlackRock is the largest investor in climate chaos, weapons, and private prisons.
In early-August, we hit the streets across the country to expose BlackRock executives and CEO Larry Fink for what they are: Greedy Wall Street Tycoons. In September, we continued social distancing demonstrations in a “September Swarm” outside BlackRock locations worldwide. We brought our intersectional message of “Defund War, Deforestation, and Fossil Fuels.”
As we close out the year, we sounded the alarm alerting you that President-elect Joe Biden has picked Brian Deese to lead the National Economic Council and Adewale Adeyemo as deputy Treasury secretary. Both Deese and Adeyemo worked for BlackRock, the world’s largest financier of weapon manufacturers and private prisons. Sign the petition and tell Biden: we don’t want war financiers running the White House. In 2021, we are committed to exposing BlackRock and calling them out on greenwashing, shady business practices, lack of human rights policies, and investments in weapon and private prison companies. Join us!
In 2020 the Divest team worked vigorously on raising the amount of Assets Under Management divested from weapons. We released new tools to help you divest Philanthropic foundations from war, and we succeeded in increasing our original $50 BN divested from weapons to $660 BN! These assets were found in funds, pensions, banks, and philanthropies.
In 2021 we will continue working on this project with the goal of getting to $1Trillion. We will be working with our local communities, supporting them in talking to their city and state foundations to divest from weapons as we raise awareness that those funds are making a killing on killing!
Towards a weapons-free world,
Carley, Cody, Jodie, Kelsey, Nancy, and the entire CODEPINK team