Welcome News: NYC set to divest city pension funds from Nuclear Weapons

Every move towards a world free of warfare is a move worth taking.

That’s why I spoke on behalf of War Resisters League at New York City Council on Tuesday - to voice our support for Resolution 0976 and Introduction 1621. These proposals reaffirm New York City as a nuclear-free zone, and instruct the pension funds of all NYC public employees to divest from the companies that profit from nuclear weapons.

Throughout the day, we heard the testimonies of A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Kings Bay Plowshare activists, and lifelong New Yorkers who recalled memories of working and playing on radioactive sites in Manhattan and Staten Island. Bayard Rustin, who previously worked at WRL, was present in the room in spirit through comments sent in their memory by Walter Naegle, their partner. It was moving to be in a room full of people echoing the call for unilateral nuclear disarmament. 

WATCH: WRL’s Comments at New York City Council 

Though we celebrate these measures, we also urged the city council to vote consistently in favor of life-affirming actions against the root causes of war. We specifically chose to focus on the connection between militarism, policing, and incarceration - as many of the co-sponsors of these measures also voted for Mayor de Blasio’s $11 billion jail expansion plan. 

Nuclear abolition was referenced many times throughout the hearing, including by council members who voted in favor of building new jails. When I heard the word abolition being used, I wondered if the councilmembers understood that abolition in the United States context is specifically rooted in Black-led organizing towards the abolition of slavery, the death penalty, police, and prisons. Both the Council’s apparent commitment to a nuclear-free NYC and their voting record on jail expansion make evident that there is still much work to be done to expand the vision of abolition to include all systems of warfare. The systems that wage war across the world – and the systems that harass, surveil, and detain people in our city – are the same.

When I left the hearing that day, I felt certain that we will need to return. Any legislative move against war that coexists with the criminalization of Black, brown, queer and trans, and poor people is incomplete. We deserve consistent commitments to the well-being of all New Yorkers. We deserve true peace, and we can win it.

Onward together,

Yuni Chang

January 30th, 2020


Want to do more? Consider:

Writing a letter in support of the King's Bay Plowshares 7, who are currently awaiting sentencing for their direct action protest nuclear submarines housed in King's Bay Naval Base, Georgia. Click here for instructions on how to send letters to the judge in favor of pardoning the King’s Bay Plowshares 7 before their sentencing. 

Getting involved in the ICAN Cities Appeal and learning about the work of prison abolition groups like No New Jails to bring a powerful vision of abolishing systems of warfare to your city council.

Tweeting at New York City Council members congratulating them on a veto-proof majority for divesting NYC pension funds from companies that invest in nuclear weapons and also urge them to vote consistently against systems of war -- particularly when it comes to jail expansion and policing.

Sample tweets you can copy/paste:

.@Dromm25 @NYCCouncil Congrats on the veto-proof majority for Res 0976 bringing NYC closer to denuclearization. NYC needs this & we desperately need to expand the vision of nuclear abolition to include the abolition of jails, & want to see you support the work of @nonewjails_nyc 

.@Dromm25 we welcome the council’s commitment to denuclearization and strongly urge the @NYCCouncil to support the work of @nonewjails_nyc— nuclear abolition goes hand in hand with prison abolition towards making NYers safer.