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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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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