This morning, over 75 youth activists blocked all entrances to Boeing Building 598, a major weapons manufacturing company located in St. Charles, Missouri. Bringing together members from at least five different local and national grassroots groups, the action aimed to disrupt Boeing’s delivery of more than 1,000 bombs to Israel.
“Young people have decided not to wait on Biden and Congress — many members of whom receive financial support from weapons companies, including Boeing — and take calls for ceasefire into their own hands by physically blocking the movement and shipment of bombs in a peaceful and nonviolent action outside Boeing’s manufacturing plant,” the coalition announced in a published statement.
The coalition occupying Boeing 598 is prepared to continue putting pressure where it hurts on the companies that have threatened Black lives at home and Palestinian lives abroad. They demand that Congress and Biden issue an immediate ceasefire and end arms sales to Israel. “Until Congress blocks the bombs, we will,” Rose Tang, an organizer with Boeing Arms Genocide who took part in the Boeing blockade, told Truthout.
The coalition engaged in the direct action at Boeing is composed of members from the national antiwar youth group Dissenters, as well as their Chicago-based campaign group #BoeingArmsGenocide, the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee, the local St. Louis hub of the community-building group Black Men Build, and the St. Louis grassroots coalition group Resist STL.
Organizers used their bodies to physically block the three separate entrances to the Boeing 598 bomb facility beginning at 7 a.m., before the first workers at the plant arrived. The 35-foot-long banner that the coalition held displayed the names of 1,300 of the more than 4,100 Palestinian children who have been killed in Gaza and read “We Mourn.” Before holding a moment of silence, a Palestinian organizer with the coalition read out the names of these 1,300 children over a megaphone.
After two hours of resistance and harassment by a Boeing employee — who Tang told Truthout created a “Boeing Freedom” sign — the building’s representatives announced that they would shut down the third entrance to the facility where trucks and shipments enter and exit. “That felt like a win to us because they weren’t sending out any bombs today,” Tang told Truthout.
Boeing already fast-tracked 1,000 small diameter bombs to Israel on October 10 and still intends to send more weaponry. In fact, Boeing seeks to speed up the delivery of as much as 1,800 Joint Direct Attack Munition kits — which convert unguided bombs into GPS-guided weapons — from this Boeing 598 plant located in St. Charles. According to former Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs R. Clarke Cooper, the U.S. has already committed to sending Israel more advanced air and missile defense support, including F-35 fighter jets, CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters, KC-46 aerial refueling tankers, and air-defense missiles for Israel’s Iron Dome.
This comes after the Biden administration asked for an additional $14 billion for Israel from Congress. This, of course, on top of requesting covert arms deals with Israel without oversight from Congress or the public. In fact, the White House is currently asking for up to $3.5 billion for Israel to purchase weapons from defense contractors and the military, “without the spending having to be approved or even disclosed to Congress,” as Sharon Zhang noted in Truthout.
“As taxpayers, we all have blood on our hands,” artist and Boeing 598 occupier Su Mac said in the coalition’s press release. “Congress must act before they are etched into history books as complicit in a genocide the country called on them to stop.”
The success of weapons manufacturing companies like Boeing is predicated upon the death and destruction of millions of people around the world, including Palestinians. As of Monday, the Palestinian Health Ministry reports the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 10,000 in the last 30 days alone, including more than 4,100 children.
Amid Israel’s genocidal campaign, weapons manufacturing companies have seen a boom in profits. Since October 7, General Dynamics and Raytheon (now rebranded as RTX) have seen their stocks surge by more than 10 percent. RTX CEO Greg Hayes told shareholders in an earnings report that fresh new contracts resulting from Israel’s bombardment of Gaza would mean that, “across the entire Raytheon portfolio, [they’re] going to see a benefit of this restocking.” The Israel Defense Forces’ bombardment, he boasted, would be a bonus on top of a potential increase in Department of Defense funding.
RTX creates the missiles used within Israel’s Iron Dome, and has been doing so since 2014. Lockheed Martin, which manufactures F-35 fighter jets, is selling such jets for $120 million each, meaning that the new fighter jets recently requested by the U.S. for Israel will boost profits even more than the company’s initial $3 billion sale of 25 planes this past July. Lockheed Martin’s CEO boasted about this boom on his LinkedIn page two weeks ago, stating that the company’s third quarter results “met or exceeded [their] expectations across the board.”
Now, several groups have taken to occupying these corporations in solidarity with Palestinians. In California, hundreds of protesters organized by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center occupied the Port of Oakland to prevent its Cape Orlando military vessel from delivering weapons and military equipment to Israel. While the shipment from Oakland was eventually shipped to its initial destination in the Port of Tacoma, this morning, activists have also blocked this port’s entrance, preventing the Israel-bound vessel from departing.
Meanwhile, in Niles, Illinois, youth protested at the Woodward Manufacturing facility, which manufactures bombs and missiles used by Israel against Palestinians. Activists who are part of the Tucson Coalition for Palestine held a “die-in” where they blocked off the entrances of RTX. In Massachusetts, Berkshire Communists organized a demonstration consisting of about 100 people at General Dynamics’ weapons plant — the second-largest employer in the area. Demonstrators held up a banner that read: “Genocide: Brought to you by General Dynamics.” And activists with Palestine Action US targeted the Cambridge, Massachusetts, office of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company.
The action targeting Boeing in Missouri today is no different. Residents of St. Charles recognize the horror that such weapons manufacturing companies have inflicted on their own lives as well. After all, St. Charles isn’t far from St. Louis, where protests in Ferguson swelled the streets following the police-perpetrated murder of Michael Brown in 2014. It was after Ferguson demonstrators documented the tear gas canisters used against them by police that Palestinians noted that they, too, had been attacked by Israel in the West Bank with tear gas from similar canisters.
In the interview that follows, Rose Tang, one of the activists who participated in the direct action at Boeing today, offered reflections from on the ground in St. Charles.
Truthout: Can you tell us about yourself, your organization, and your group’s relationship to the Palestinian struggle?
Rose Tang: I’m a youth organizer with Dissenters. Dissenters is a group of young people from across the country. It’s a national organization of young people organizing against war and militarism, especially in the United States. Dissenters stands in solidarity with Palestinians. Our youth organizers across the country have been consistently organizing for a ceasefire and to end the occupation and to end the siege on Gaza.
Today we are out here to demand that Biden call for an immediate ceasefire as well as an immediate stop to the arms sale to Israel, including the bombs that are being manufactured at the Boeing facility that we are standing right in front of today.
Can you tell us about today’s action?
We have 75 folks out here today who have blocked all three entrances to the Boeing facility in St. Charles. This facility has manufactured hundreds of bombs over the past month, bombs that have been sent directly to Israel to use in its genocide of Palestinian people, especially in Gaza. We have blocked all three entrances for the past two and a half hours. Our group has now heard word that Boeing made the decision not to send its employees to work today. Employees have been told to work remotely.
In addition, [I have been told] all weapons shipments have been stopped from leaving the facility today because our folks were blockading the entrance where those shipments would leave from. Now, we’re just convening at the main entrance, chanting in support of Palestinians and to end the occupation, to end U.S. arms sales to Israel, and for Boeing to continue being shut down.
People are chanting now about [our demands for Joe] Biden. We’ve been asking for a ceasefire for many weeks. There’s been millions of people demanding a ceasefire across the United States and the world. Biden and Boeing won’t stop the flow of bombs, so we are coming to block it for them. We have been using our bodies to physically blockade these entrances and to prevent weapons from going out of the facility.
Can you speak to the importance of targeting companies like Boeing right now? Why is this action an important way to act in solidarity with Palestine?
Boeing is one of the top three weapons manufacturers in the country and around the world. Students and individuals organizing with dissenters and with many other anti-imperialist groups have been targeting these major war profiteers. We call them war profiteers because that is what they are in the business of doing.
Boeing creates bombs, it creates drones and weapons, and it profits off of them. It profits off of those weapons being used directly to kill people. It profits from death and genocide. Profit is a huge element of this war and this genocide. So, we are coming to target that.
How should people who support this kind of action get more involved right now?
Folks can follow us on social media to hear about when actions are happening and come out to support. Dissenters is at @WeAreDissenters. They can also follow other groups that were involved in organizing the action: St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee [@stl_psc], Black Men Build St Louis [@blackmenbuildstl], the Boeing Arms Genocide campaign [@boeingarmsgenocide] and Resist St. Louis [@resiststl].
Can you talk about the visual elements of this blockade action and why they’re important?
One of the main visual points of this action is that we have a 35-foot banner that lists the names of 1,300 Palestinian children. This really only represents a fraction of the people that have been killed in Palestine over the past month, a number [that] now exceeds 10,000. We are here to demand action from our government, but also to mourn these lives lost, and we believe that the best way that we can honor these people who have been brutally killed by Israel is to immediately recognize their humanity by stopping the arms sales and calling for a ceasefire.
We have to mourn by taking action. Everyone who lives in the United States is complicit in this in some way because our tax dollars are funding these attacks, and funding private companies like Boeing.
Note: A correction was made to clarify that the banner with the names was 35 feet long, not 5 feet long.
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