ACTION ALERT: Protest BlackRock's Investments in Washington's Global War Machine
May 27, 2018
Mehreen Kasana / Independent Media Institute & Chelsia Rose Marcius and Rich Shapiro / New York Daily News & CODEPINK
According to the progressive anti-war and women-led Code Pink, it's time for BlackRock -- the world's most powerful private equity giant -- to cease making a "killing on killing." It must be held accountable for its massive investments in the manufacturing of deadly weapons both within the United States and around the world. Code Pink's Divest from the War Machine campaign notes that the weapons BlackRock invests in are killing innocent civilians "in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq."
Petition to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink: #DivestFromWar
CODEPINK Divest from War Campaign
Dear Mr. Fink,
BlackRock must divest from weapons manufacturers, which produce the tools and weapons for war and violence in Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and countless other areas where the U.S. is active in conflict. The result is the loss of innocent lives and turmoil around the world.
The sale of US weapons to oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia is a shining example of how the products made by these companies are not responsible or beneficial to the global community.
As you surely know, the country of Yemen is on the edge of famine brought on by the brutal assault from the Saudi regime, a country who recently purchased billions in arms from US weapon manufacturers.
We also see these weapons at home. You have recognized the danger of civilian firearms by creating funds that exclude those manufacturers, yet BlackRock remains silent on the weapons used in global conflict.
Those same weapons are given to police forces in our communities and turned against Americans. The violence BlackRock profits from is in our streets, and the streets of the world.
You recently made a statement that BlackRock will hold companies accountable to be good global citizens. Obviously, a statement is not enough, when BlackRock continues to invest in companies engaging in war and conflict, which results in the deaths of innocent civilians and destruction of sovereign nations.
There should be no profit from war. The stakes are too high to be driven by profit margins.
BlackRock must divest from, and stop investing in, companies that sell weapons used in war and violence around the world and at home.
ACTION: You can sign here
Finance Giant BlackRock Faces Activist Heat for Investing in the War Machine
Divest from the war machine,
protesters tell the private equity giant
Mehreen Kasana / Independent Media Institute & ALterNet
(May 24, 2018) -- On a dreary Wednesday morning, anti-war protesters gathered in Manhattan to turn up the heat on the world's most powerful private equity giant, BlackRock. Attendees carried a plethora of signs and chanted a variety of demands, but their main focus was on holding the massive investment company accountable for its controversial activities -- mainly investing in the manufacturing of deadly weapons -- within the United States as well as around the world. For the progressive anti-war and women-led Code Pink, BlackRock had to ceasemaking a "killing on killing."
Sarah Eckel Dalrymple, manager for Code Pink's Divest from the War Machine campaign, tells the Independent Media Institute that the weapons BlackRock invests in "are being used in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.
Those weapons are also in our streets, going into the hands of the police forces. We see the impact of these investments around the world and at home. We are calling on BlackRock, the world's largest investment firm, to divest from war. They need to rip themselves from these profits."
"We're fighting wars that cannot be won," Dalrymple goes on. "[BlackRock] continues engaging in them. That's not what we should be doing. We are bombing, we are engaging in conflict, [but] we are not doing the work to rebuild these communities -- and we are not making ourselves safer."
The companies that BlackRock invests in include Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon -- these are just a few of the companies that make billions off of America's endless wars.
Perhaps the best way to understand how BlackRock makes a profit from investing in companies that manufacture weapons is by looking at the rhetoric of American protectionism: the idea that there is an existential threat to the United States of America at all times.
As CNBC noted in March, BlackRock strategists were "optimistic" about jumps in bond yields as more Americans grew enamored with jingoistic paranoia -- possibly on the issue of immigration and entries of refugees from countries pillaged by American imperial war. According to CNBC, BlackRock has a whopping $6 trillion in assets and has previously said that it would "supercharge" corporate yields.
The company's global chief investment strategist, Richard Turnill, told CNBC about the company's profits, "There's a relative preference that continues to be for stocks. Our expectation is you're going to get lower returns and higher valuations across all asset classes. It's still an environment where you want to be invested in stocks. It's still an environment where you want to see stocks do well in a period of sustained expansion."
It's that kind of chase after lucrative yields combined with America's ultra-nationalist pro-war rhetoric that keeps the country's war machine well-oiled, according to Dalrymple. In contrast, peace deals tend to be anathema for companies like BlackRock. "After the North and South Koreans leader met, weapon stocks went down." Dalrymple has a point.
Shortly after the historic handshake took place between Kim Jong Un and Moon Jae-in, the S&P Aerospace and Defense Select Industry Index stock dropped by 1.3 percent. "The Asian markets took a bit of rise while American markets stayed flat," Dalrymple says. She notes that the profitability of such markets is "based on whether or not we can have peace."
"We're allowing this one [war] portion of the market to drive the rest of it," she adds. "It really does highlight how this is only profiting a few people."
Code Pink's focus on BlackRock points to a larger concern about constant war expressed by progressives in the United States. It isn't a new worry either. In 2015, right after the Paris attacks, the stocks of the world's most prominent and potent weapons manufacturers quite literally soared.
Those companies included the firms that BlackRock invests, such as Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics plus Booz Allen Hamilton.
The investment firm's activities carry domestic repercussions as well, according to activists. When it comes to American gun violence, BlackRock is under critical spotlight as activists believe the company reaps profits from firearm purchases.
Joining Code Pink on Wednesday, Jonathan Westin, director of the New York Communities for Change, told New York Daily News, "We're here to send a message that BlackRock investors and big Wall Street investors are propping up the NRA and therefore the death of kids across the country."
Anti-gun Protesters Rally Outside BlackRock Shareholder
Meeting to Condemn its Sturm Ruger Investments
Chelsia Rose Marcius and Rich Shapiro / New York Daily News
(May 23, 2018) -- Anti-gun demonstrators took aim at BlackRock Wednesday, rallying outside the private equity giant's shareholder meeting in protest of its ties to one of the nation's largest firearms makers.
The roughly 50 gun control supporters blasted BlackRock and its CEO Larry Fink for pouring money into Sturm Ruger amid the country's spate of mass school shootings.
"We're here to send a message that BlackRock investors and big Wall Street investors are propping up the NRA and therefore the death of kids across the country," said Jonathan Westin, director of the non-profit New York Communities for Change, said at the rally outside the Lotte New York Palace Hotel on Madison Ave.
"Larry Fink likes to pretend he's a responsible investor when in reality he's just as responsible for the deaths of these kids," Westin added.
BlackRock, which is Sturm Ruger's largest investor, has come under fire in recent months by activists claiming its pursuit of profits comes at the expense of gun violence victims.
Texas mass murderer Devin Kelly used one of Ruger's AR-15-style assault rifles to kill 26 people and wound 20 more inside a Sutherland Springs church last November.
"I don't know if this situation will ever change because these investors make so much money off this industry," said protester Andrew Ryan, 65, of Hastings on the Hudson. "But we have to try. We have to do something."
A BlackRock spokesman declined to address the protest directly but pointed to a pair of bulletins released in recent months.
In an April memo, the firm announced that it will offer a new line of funds that exclude companies that make or sell guns.
Gun violence activists had reasons to cheer a month later when a group of nuns and other faith-based investors in Sturm Ruger successfully pushed for a resolution requiring the company to prepare a report on the bloodshed produced by its weapons.
"There has to be pressure on these investors to do better, to stop thinking about making money and think about what that money is going towards," Sonia Lopez, 44, of Flushing, said at Wednesday's protest.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
More Actions Ahead
CODEPINK / Divest from the War Machine
We are especially empowered by the fortifying connections between peace groups that are growing from this action, both in NYC and at related BlackRock actions in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Palo Alto and Dallas. Take a look at the action photos.
We're excited to keep up the moment on the BlackRock campaign, so please reach out if you want more information on next steps!
CODEPINK's Divest from the War Machine Team