On Earth Day 2021, New Yorkers rally at the iconic Unisphere in Flushing Meadows, Queens. Call for City Council to vote and pass nuclear disarmament legislation.  Resolution 976 & Introduction 1621.

For Earth Day New York members of the New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN) rallied at the iconic Unisphere in Flushing Meadows, Queens calling Speaker Corey Johnson and City Council to bring nuclear disarmament legislation Resolution 976 and Introduction 1621 to the floor for a vote.

 Brendan Fay, NYCAN member and Irish gay activist said, “On Earth Day 2021 as one of similar events taking place around the world, we raise the alarm and call New Yorkers to action. From the heart of our home in Queens, a borough of diversity and determination we use our voices and votes and say it is time for Speaker Johnson and the Council to enact Res 976 and Intro 1621, nuclear disarmament legislation introduced by Council Member Danny Dromm and supported by a Council majority. Those seeking the votes and trust of New Yorkers to be Mayor and Comptroller also need to speak up. We cannot claim to love the earth and be silent as nuclear weapons threaten life on the planet and the future of humanity. Let a vote from City Hall for nuclear disarmament send a message of hope, peace and health across our world.”

In 2018, 27 New York City Council Members signed a letter to Comptroller Scott Stringer instructing him to align New York City’s finances with its progressive values by divesting its pension funds from nuclear weapon producers.   Council Speaker Corey Johnson signed that letter.

 “The political hesitancy on divesting NYC pension funds from nuclear weapons production is baffling. Children and young people have a right to a future without fear of nuclear war,” said Fay, long time disarmament campaigner who lives in Astoria.

“Today the specter of nuclear warfare is more terrifying than ever,” said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm (Jackson Heights/Elmhurst), primary sponsor of the legislation.  “It is up to NYC to take action like other cities around the world.  New York City plans to respond to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with action. Resolution 976 calls for divestment of the city’s $475 million investment in nuclear weapons. Though this represents just 0.25% of the System’s total assets, such action would go a long way towards the stigmatization of nuclear weapons and the ultimate goal of nuclear abolition. I thank the Nobel Peace Prize-winning advocates from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for their steadfast dedication to this timely effort. It is past time to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

Resolution 976 calls on the Comptroller to instruct pension funds to divest from the production of nuclear weapons. Divesting from nuclear weapons will provide NYC with resources to address the climate crisis.   Resolution 976 also re-affirms New York City as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in an effort to prevent nuclear weapons from being again placed within the territorial limits of the City of New York.

“On January 22nd of this year, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law. The TPNW represents a way that we can safeguard what we love and offer it as a gift for the generations that follow – a world grounded in justice and peace,” said Dr. Emily Welty, associate professor at Pace University and resident of Rockaway Beach, close to where nuclear weapons were once deployed. Resolution 976 supports the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by endorsing the ICAN Cities Appeal.

Introduction 1621 establishes a Nuclear Disarmament and Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Advisory Committee to advise the City Council on environmental remediation policy for legacy sites within the five boroughs. In the race to produce the world’s first nuclear weapons, the Manhattan Project handled radioactive material at 16 sites within New York City. This included 1,200 tons of uranium ore in Port Richmond, Staten Island, 3.7 tons of thorium oxalate in Ridgewood, Queens and 150 tons of uranium materials at the Baker and Williams Warehouses in Chelsea. It will also conduct a comprehensive review of New York City’s current stance on nuclear weapons; submit an annual report for five years including recommendations for policy and legislation; and host discussions, public programs and other educational initiatives

“On this Earth Day, New York City Council has the opportunity to issue a clarion call to the Biden Administration that New Yorkers prize human needs over radioactive violence — healthcare not warfare!” said, Dr. Kathleen Sullivan, Director of Hibakusha Stories, a project that has brought the first-hand witness of atomic bomb survivors to approximately 40,000 New York City youth. “Nuclear modernization diverts money desperately needed to address the coronavirus pandemic, climate chaos and the destabilizing conditions of social and economic injustices made plain by COVID 19.”

Robert Croonquist, founder of Youth Arts New York and NYC pension holder said, “Some may say it is naive to believe we can rid the world of nuclear weapons but it is far more naive to believe we can survive in a world with them.  Now is the time to cease investing in our mutually assured destruction and redirect our investments to our mutually assured survival.”

As New Yorkers, we must realign our priorities to our progressive values, both fiscally and morally. NYC can send a powerful message to the world that we prioritize human needs over nuclear violence.

Seth Shelden, of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate, said “Nuclear weapons represent our climate’s most acute danger in that climate change spurs resource insecurity, which increases the risk of armed conflict, in turn increasing the risk of use of nuclear weapons, where such use threatens to exacerbate climate chaos far beyond present trajectories, in turn causing further resource insecurity, all in a mutually reinforcing cycle of doom. NYC’s legacy with nuclear weapons, as well as NYC’s continued investment in the production and maintenance of nuclear weapons, are distinctly NYC problems. Res. 976 and Int. 1621 present distinctly NYC solutions. We mustn’t put off until the next Council solutions that we need today. As with climate change, if we fail to take meaningful action quickly, our great City remains at extraordinary risk.”