Protest against war profiteers Lockheed Martin -- by SeÃ¡n Kinane12/18/06
On Saturday at the Oldsmar plant of weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin on Tampa Road, St. Pete for Peace held a protest against the corporationâ€™s war profiteering. WMNFâ€™s SeÃ¡n Kinane reports.
â€œWell, weâ€™re out here peaceful protest against Lockheed Martin because they make the weapons that kill innocent people. And weâ€™re on the public sidewalk. And weâ€™re just expressing our opinion that itâ€™s not just the government thatâ€™s guilty in all the imperial wars of the United States but itâ€™s the weapon makers and its all those who support the war.â€?
That was Chris Ernesto from St Pete For Peace describing why he and about a dozen others held signs outside the Oldsmar facility of Lockheed Martin.
According to the Lockheed Martin website, the corporation posted third quarter 2006 net earnings of $629 million, up 47% from the same quarter last year. Net sales for the first nine months of 2006 were $28.8 billion, a 7% increase over last year.
One of the protesters, Tony Thomas, explained why his sign had dollar bills stapled to it.
â€œWar is a Racket. It says â€œTroops Die, Bushâ€™s Buddies Get Richer.â€? They represent the profits that are being made by companies like Lockheed Martin and Bechtel and Halliburton and GE and on and on. Iâ€™m just against war for profit in general. Iâ€™m against the influence that these companies have with our government, in taking us to war unjustly. Just follow the money.â€?
A Lockheed representative had Sheriffs officers tell the protesters to move signs they had brought a few feet closer to the sidewalk. When they complied, two protesters were given trespass warnings for crossing onto private property. One was Donald Shiffler.
â€œWhen he asked us to remove our signs and thatâ€™s what I was doing. And for that I got trespassed? I had to go on his property to get the signs off. I mean itâ€™s a Catch 22, you know.â€?
The CorpWatch website warprofiteers.com calls Lockheed Martin the world's #1 military contractor and the worldâ€™s largest arms exporter. According to the site, the corporation contributed over 2.2 million dollars to political campaigns in the 2004 election cycle and had 19.4 billion dollars of military contracts in 2005. They (quote) â€œmade millions through insider trading, falsifying accounts, and bribing officials.â€? (end-quote)
WMNF asked some of the other participants in Saturdayâ€™s rally against Lockheed Martinâ€™s war profiteering what their signs said and why they were protesting.
â€œMelissa Baird. On one side it says â€˜Bring the troops home nowâ€™ on the other side it says â€˜Impeach the lying spying bastard.â€™ It really refers to the entire Bush administration but specifically it refers to George W. Bush. And I believe that he and Cheney in particular need to be impeached and if we can get the rest of the administration with them, more power to us. The real major war profiteers like Haliburton, KBR and the rest of the subsidiaries are not based in our area so we canâ€™t be in front of them; Lockheed Martin is the next best thing. The blood of our citizens is on their hands.â€?
â€œMy sign says â€œLockheed builds death.â€? It means weâ€™re protesting in front of this factory here because they make weapons of destruction and they profit from it. And we just want to make the public aware of this. Thatâ€™s whatâ€™s happening here. So theyâ€™re just as much involved in it as someone killing people.â€?
â€œKim Thomas. My sign says â€œLockheed Martin, War Profiteer.â€? It means to me I agree with Dennis Kucinich, the way weâ€™re going to stop this war is to stop funding it. And we need to make people realize where our money is going and who is profiting. And I think that once the people realize whatâ€™s going on, theyâ€™ll want to stop the war, too. Bring them home now.â€?
There was one counter protester who held a sign denouncing the protesters. He told WMNF his name, what his sign said, and why he was there with his moped.
â€œRichard Bennet [?]. â€˜Iâ€™m With Stupid.â€™ I donâ€™t even work here. I drove by and I saw that and said, â€˜well, itâ€™s my turn.â€™ Why donâ€™t you ask them how they got here today? Did they drive that [moped]? Do they even own one of these? Look at this, 90 miles per gallon. What do they get in their SUVs?â€?
Donald Schiffler responded:
â€œNo, I drive a Honda accord, I donâ€™t drive an SUV; I donâ€™t own an SUVâ€?
WMNF attempted to contact Lockheed Martin but they did not respond by airtime. To find out about Lockheed, visit lockheedmartin.com
If you want to get involved with St Pete For Peace, visit stpeteforpeace.org
For WMNF News, reporting from Oldsmar, Iâ€™m SeÃ¡n Kinane
Corp Watchâ€™s War Profiteers page on Lockheed Martin