“Merchants of Death” Shutdown Action at Lockheed Martin

Palestine Protest
Photo by Phil Pasquini

In solidarity with the international “Shut It Down for Palestine” day of action, human rights activists from Code Pink demonstrated at the downtown San Francisco headquarters of Lockheed Martin—the world’s largest military company—December 8 to protest its involvement in manufacturing and supplying weapons being used by Israel in its war on Gaza. The activists are demanding that instead of spending “$14 billion on the Israeli military, much of it going to war companies like Lockheed Martin, let’s use it to help Palestine, and for housing, clean energy, health care, and education in the USA.”

They are also demanding that the company cease the production and supply of “all weapons intended for the Israeli military’s genocide in Gaza” that have been used to kill innocent civilians including entire families along with journalists covering the war.

The action along the sidewalk at the headquarters building was a mix of theater, a picket line and a teach-in informing the public of their position in condemning the company for its complicity in supply the weapons used in the genocide of the Palestinian people. Code Pink also delivered a “Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal subpoena and contempt citation” to the company but was refused entrance to the building. The lobby security team chain locked the two main entrance doors thus shutting the building down during the hour that demonstrators occupied the sidewalk where they spray painted signs and arrows pointing to the building naming Lockheed Martin a “Merchant of Death.” Also decorating the building were small children’s caskets accompanied by blood money bills and bloody handprints.

Organizer Cynthia Papermaster summed up the company’s involvement in the War in Gaza by saying they are “literally making a killing on killing.” She went on to note that “Lockheed CEO James D. Taiclett has the blood of thousands on his hands. War profiteering is illegal, immoral, and responsible for so much misery in the world. Lockheed influences U.S. foreign policy to ensure continual conflicts in order to keep profits high. They bribe Congress to continue spending billions of our tax dollars to fund violence all over the globe. They are public enemy number one for a world that deserves to live in peace, cooperation, and true security.”

Palestine Protest1
Photo by Phil Pasquini

The company website describes its supplying of weapons to Israel by noting that: “Lockheed Martin is proud of the significant role it has fulfilled in the security of the State of Israel…. Lockheed Martin supplies the Israeli Air Force with fighter jets (including Lockheed Martin F-35s, ‘the most lethal…fighter aircraft in the world.’)” 

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has noted that many of the weapons the company supplies Israel are “gifted through the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Financing program.” These weapons in turn are integrated into the IDF’s main weapons systems, for use in combat and security.

Lockheed Martin has also created great political influence for its business through lobbying the U.S. government and the U.S. military by spending $305 million between 1998 and 2022 in those efforts. While its political action committees (PAC) spent more than $35 million from 1995 through 2021 in making campaign donations to candidates from both parties. They have also hired 44 former senior officials from the U.S. Department of Defense to maintain their close ties with the world’s largest military. And according to Code Pink the “collaboration between Lockheed Martin and Israeli industries alone is expected to exceed $4 billion.”

While President Dwight D. Eisenhower is often quoted for his famous 1961 warning from his farewell address about the “Military Industrial Complex” a more revealing quote that quantifies his concerns was from his April 16, 1953 speach in the aftermath of the death of Joseph Stalin. Known as the Chance for Peace Speech (aka Cross of Iron Speech) he said “Every gun made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

(This article has appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and Nuzeink)

Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.

© 2023 nuzeink all rights reserved worldwide

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