NYC moving towards nuclear weapon divestment
There is now a super majority of support for the package of legislation in the New York City Council introduced on nuclear weapons (Res. No. 976 and Int. No. 1621). Introduced by City Council Member Daniel Dromm and overwhelmingly supported by New York City residents, the vote is yet to be scheduled.
Support was expressed during a hours of public testimony on 28 January, featuring statements from more than 60 persons and receiving written testimony another 70.
Once passed, these bills would:
- Call for NYC to divest public employee pension funds from companies involved in nuclear weapons production and maintenance;
- Reaffirm NYC as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone;
- Establish a New York City Nuclear Disarmament and Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Advisory Committee to examine issues related to nuclear disarmament and New York City’s nuclear-weapons-free zone status, issue reports, conduct programs, host public meetings and other educational initiatives, and make recommendations for policy and legislation in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office over a five-year period; and
- Endorse the ICAN City Appeal on behalf of NYC.
New York City has had a major role in the nuclear weapons industry (hence why they called it The Manhattan Project). At the same time, however, there is an inspiring history of New Yorkers opposing nuclear weapons over the last 70-plus years. For example, John Hersey’s Hiroshima first appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 1946. In 1955, the Norman Cousins brought 25 atomic bomb survivors from Japan, The Hiroshima Maidens, to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan for reconstructive surgeries. Decades later, the landmark 1982 Central Park protest brought over one million people to the streets to demand nuclear disarmament.
It is in continuing to address this legacy that this New York City package of bills can be especially meaningful. With divestment as a centerpiece of this legislation and an advisory committee that will include activists, academics, and hibakusha, these bills have the potential to both raise awareness and effectuate real change in policy in one of the world’s most geopolitically significant metropolitan areas.