There were two public protests – one that led to three arrests – last month at 40 Westminster Street in downtown Providence, corporate headquarters for Textron. The Rhode Island-based conglomerate was identified as Saudi Arabia’s source for cluster bombs and Saudi-led forces were accused of using the highly controversial and indiscriminate weapon, that 119 nations have outlawed but not the United States or Saudi Arabia, in its bloody conflict in Yemen.
Now that Human Rights Watch has evidence Textron-made cluster bombs were used in civilian-populated areas of Yemen, which would violate US trade law on cluster bombs, local peace activists say the protests will increase.
“We will be taking action targeting Textron once a week until they stop making cluster bombs,” according to a Facebook event promoting a protest this Thursday. “This week we’ll be demonstrating across the street with signs, banners, flyers.”
The protests are being organized by Pia Ward, who was arrested for chaining her neck to a front door at Textron at an action on April 21, the second public protest at Textron last month. She is a co-founder of FANG, Fighting Against Natural Gas, the group organizing protests against the proposed Burrillville power plant.
“This is just the first of many protests that will be occurring,” she wrote on Facebook. “I plan on having events that will not neccesitate anyone’s physical presence in Providence but will enable people across the US to participate.”
Ward lived in Lebanon as a teenager and her experience there inspired her to organize against Textron making weapons known to maim innocent civilians.
“In 1982, when I was 16 years old and living in Beirut, Lebanon, I had a friend who lost both legs when he accidentally rode his bicycle over an Israeli mine He was 12 years old,” she wrote. “His family was unable to afford to get him a wheelchair much less prosthetic legs. As a result, there wasn’t much he was able to do. In the morning he was carried down to the corner store where he spent his day playing pinball and in the evening carried back home again. This happened every day, 7 days a week. When I left Lebanon 5 years later, this was still the case. Still no wheelchair, still no prosthetic legs. His life had been reduced to pinball.”
The demonstration this week is scheduled for Thursday, 11am to 1pm. A spokesman for Textron declined to comment.
- Human Rights Watch condemns use of Textron-made cluster bomb (Feb. 24)
- Textron still makes cluster bombs despite downward global, US trends (Feb. 29)
- Textron sold cluster bombs to seven foreign governments (March 4)
- What US company made the bomb that killed 97 civilians in Yemen (April 8)
- Quaker group to protests Textron for selling cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia (April 11)
- Textron plays leading role in Middle East violence (April 11)
- CODEPINK, peace groups join campaign against cluster bombs (April 15)
- Peace activists call attention to Textron cluster bombs (April 19)
- Anti-cluster bomb activists arrested for chaining themselves to Textron headquarters
- Photo Essay (April 21)
- Human Rights Watch finds evidence of Textron cluster bomb in Yemen (May 6)