[Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

The village of Endicott, New York, is where the computer age began. International Business Machines, or IBM, has roots in Endicott back to 1916 as a time clock company. It later became the acclaimed leader in the design and building of business machines and, in 1981, introduced to the world the first personal computer. 

At its peak of employment, IBM had 13,000 employees in some 16 buildings in bustling little Endicott.

IBM plant in Endicott, New York, 1955. [Source: computerhistory.org]

Focusing on large office-style mainframe computers instead of the personal computer left IBM far behind in the international surge for desktop and laptop computers. Today, IBM still ranks high in the Fortune 500 list of successful companies as #49 but left Endicott IBM with fewer than 500 employees. 

Some of the empty space left behind by IBM has been taken over by BAE (once known as British Aeronautical Engineering). The most recent Pentagon order at BAE Endicott (July 2022) was for $92 million to modify the controls for the Air Force F-16 fighter jet.

BAE Systems USA photo of: Endicott
[Source: glassdoor.com]

Money is once again flowing into the depressed village of Endicott. Where once upscale businesses occupied Washington Avenue, now small convenience stores, fast food shops, an adult bookstore, tattoo parlors and a few ethnic restaurants line the street.

Yet, there is excitement in the village as BAE employee cars begin to fill the empty parking lots left by IBM. War contracts may bring back the depressed village and surrounding area with 1,400 BAE employees and growing. BAE has selected Endicott as the place to build drive systems for electric buses. Local environmental activists are thrilled by the most recent contract given to BAE for electric bus systems by a Canadian company.

Electric-hybrid transit bus moves on electrified green road with Philadelphia in the background.
[Source: basesystem.com]

BAE has been working on electric bus systems for 20 years. It has been a clever tactic for war merchants to brag about their good work to help the environment. Contracts for millions to build electric bus systems are minuscule compared to the multi-billions spent on war contracts like the $2.7 billion as a start-up price to BAE for an Advanced Precision Kill System. In fact, Forbes magazine ranks BAE as the 3rd largest arms producer in the world. 

Timeline, calendar

Description automatically generated
[Source: www.baesystems.com]

Two days before 9/11, the money-maker day for the arms industry, a coalition of peace and justice activists from upstate New York communities (Endicott, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, Corning, Hornell and Albany) came together at BAE to expose the merchant of death and call upon the workers to demand economic conversion from designing and manufacturing systems of destruction and death to designing and making life supporting systems. We had banners depicting BAE as a worldwide terrorist organization. 

About 40 of us were ushered off the BAE pavement to the sidewalk by security who said they were not employed by BAE. They had shoulder patches identifying themselves as Black Rhino. One of our Veterans For Peace members from Syracuse, retired attorney Ray Van Nostrand, was told to move his right foot forward a few inches because part of his heel was on BAE property.

One Black Rhino security guard was asked if any of us would be allowed to enter the BAE facility if the building were burning and people called for help. “Absolutely not, this is private property and you would be trespassing.”

[Source: Courtesy of Jack Gilroy]

Next, the upstate New York activists took a 20-minute drive west of BAE Endicott to Lockheed Martin in Owego. Lockheed Martin is the undisputed king of war merchants. Last year it captured $78 billion of the over $750 billion awarded to more than 100 war merchants in 2022.

The non-war products scam of Lockheed Martin is some 20 years of developing a faster, more efficient system to sort mail in post offices around the USA. Lockheed Martin also produces infrared cameras that monitor license plates. Awarded $221 million, the non-war products of Lockheed amount to less than three-tenths of one percent of just one year of Lockheed’s annual Pentagon award money.

Lockheed Martin has its own internal security but they called the Tioga County Sheriff’s Department to deal with us. We had time to stand in front of the Lockheed Martin logo on their property, discuss our reason for being there with a very courteous young deputy, do video and still photos.

Later, when we attempted to deliver our letter toLockheed Martin (the same one we had sent certified mail), we were stopped for ID at the gate and told to wait.

Jack Gilroy tries to deliver letter during protest. [Source: Photo courtesy of Gary Inghram]

Shortly thereafter, the Sheriff’s Department returned and escorted us back to Route 17 where our fellow activists were still holding their banners and signs. There were no arrests but the names, dates of birth, etc., of three of us were recorded by the Tioga Sheriff’s Department—a very small issue for the good rattling we did of the cage of the beast.

One of the three questioned by the Sheriff’s Department was a reporter/cameraman for Channel 34, an ABC affiliate in Binghamton, New York. Unlikely that his report shown that night on Channel 34 would become national news. 

In solidarity with our demonstrations at Lockheed in Owego, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Pax Christi joined us by going to the Lockheed Martin headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, at the same time we were doing our demonstration at Lockheed Martin Owego in New York.

Pax Christi protesters outside Lockheed Martin plant in upstate New York [Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

Someone at the headquarters in Bethesda actually took Pax Christi’s CEO letter inside of Lockheed Martin headquarters. (In addition, the same letter was sent by certified mail to the Bethesda office). The Pax Christi D.C. banner was huge and simply said: Lockheed Martin Terrorizes the World.

[Source: Photo courtesy of Vera Scroggins]

What is needed is thousands of peace and justice protesters at the gates of war merchants around the world demanding economic conversion from weapons making to the real needs of this fragile planet. Workers must organize inside their industries with demands for moral work that sustains life, not eliminates life.

“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will.” – Frederick Douglass, 1857


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About the Author

11 COMMENTS

  1. I’m glad these activists are out there in front of Lockheed Martin and BAE factories, pointing out how utterly sickening and vile they are, making obscene profits in the BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars, money which should be coming back to taxpayers in the form of subsidized education for university; investing in public schools; construction of low income housing; and of course a vastly expanded social safety net which guarantees every American a home, single payer healthcare and a decent paying job. You can NOT have a soul and work for these evil ‘defense’ corporations knowing full well that the products you make have killed MILLIONS of innocent civilians worldwide, and left entire historic cities like Mosul and Raqqa completely reduced to rubble. Not to mention they bankroll politician campaigns, basically bribing them so they always vote ‘yes’ to another massive billion dollar defense budget for Ukraine. While the USA turns into a sh!thole, these scumbag defense corporations take all the money. Utterly sickening and criminal.

  2. Great article highlighting grassroots activism. We need much much more of this. With regard to targeting weapons manufacturers, its been a long time coming. Jack doesn’t mention it, but we got more or less the same reception at BAE and Lockheed Martin as we do at the military bases we usually picket- security guys setting limits with a smile. At BAE, they draw a line on the sidewalk to separate private from public property. But, it was good to see they definitely took notice of our presence. There is a long driveway from the street to the door at Lockheed Martin, a private road, if you will. They don’t want anyone getting too close. We should be there more often.

  3. As a former US Army sniper who served in Iraq and Kosovo it is shameful to have been used for corporate profit and greed. Especially since the consequences are a degraded national security, global climate crisis and communities and lives destroyed. Our economic systems now drive war and destruction and the people pay the price. Instead of thanking me for my service, listen to these veterans and fight to change our institutions to serve humanity.

  4. Thank you and Jack Gilroy for this article. The actions of the Truthtellers in his account are more than inspiring. They shed a light on how our country has betrayed the many towns and small cities that once made instruments of real use to people and have showered them with contracts for war and death.
    Bravo also for the fine informative graphics in the article.

  5. Jack Gilroy’s article about how military contractors are so embedded into our communities is very important. Many communities across the U.S. are faced with this same situation and the upstate NY activists are showing the way on how to expose these truths so we can do something about them. As a follow up, I recommend reading Miriam Pemberton’s new book “Six Stops on the National Security Tour: Rethinking Warfare Economies.”

  6. Thanks for this action and for the article.

    Economic conversion of our economy is essential unless we want the United States to continue to lead the world in production of armaments of death and to limit the job opportunities available to our present and next generation to the always expanding military industrial complex.

    Working in these industries often lead thinking people to question their work and in some cases lead to moral injury and the deadening of individual souls and the soul of our society.

    Conversion to non military industries will help safe the planet by putting more money and effort into reversing climate change and will lead to life giving work instead of work which leads to destruction.

    Until we grasp and start implementing conversion of our economy from a military to a life giving one, we as a nation, we will continue to bear the negative fruits of such an existence until our products – nuclear weapons and others, are unleashed in a way that will destroy our existence.

    Thanks to Jack Gilroy and others for continuing their prophetic work.

  7. Thank you for this important article. The stories of too many nonviolent actions for peace are never told. The Ukraine war has greatly intensified our choice between life and death. Either we as humans will choose a new way of being that is rooted in nonviolence and reject an economy that benefits from the production of deadly weapons or we will remain stuck in the old conviction that war is inevitable.

  8. Thank you for this excellent, interesting, and informative article on the history of industry in Endicott and the sad transformation from a computer-producing town to the home of a “merchant of death.” Thanks to all the activists who gave their time and commitment to both protests at BAE and Lockheed Martin. As is said in the article, we need far more of this outcry for an end to the obscenely profitable arms industry and for the vast growth of a peace industry. And we need the media to pay far more attention to such actions and messages that affirm life and denounce death. The people have spoken!

  9. It was a special time in my life when I traveled from Corning, NY to Georgia for the trial of the King’s Bay 7 Plowshares activists, fighting nuclear devastation. It just so happened that Jack was there, meeting him for the first time. Living within an hour from each other, I knew nothing of his many, many years of peace and justice activism. His history is a very long one over the decades of organizing and educating about the nightmares we have inflicted upon millions around the world, with the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about, as did Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler, Rev. Martin Luther King and so many others. This recent event Jack organized adds to his devoted calling to fight against the world’s number one arms trader and user, and the existential crises they breed – nuclear and climate catastrophes.

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