[Hal Bauer (left) and Hank Stone [Photo: David Kramer, Sunday, 12/30/18 from Conversations on Peace and War at East and Goodman]
Rochester could support the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons discusses the work of the peace vigil that has gathered every Sunday from noon to 1pm for twenty years now at the corner of East and Goodman.Currently, members of the vigil are encouraging local elected official to sign a pledge to align with the Treaty: The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) City Legislators Pledge
The most significant aspect of the aligning with the Treaty is that municipalities are barred from investing in 26 companies that make nuclear weapons. To be fully “Treaty Aligned,” a town or city:
- Has no public investments in any of the 26 companies that make nuclear weapons.
- Does not purchase products or services from any of those companies.
- Prohibits all other nuclear weapons-related activities, so far as they are able, within their jurisdiction or control. From CITIES AND TOWNS (Nuclearban.us)
I spoke with Brighton Towncouncil member Robin Wilt who signed the pledge and explained her rationale.
Talker: You’ve participated in the peace movement at various levels. What actions have you taken?
Robin: I have been actively involved in the peace movement since approximately 2004, when I participated in peace actions critical of the Iraq War. My brother attended West Point and was in the graduating class of 2002, during whose commencement, then-President George W. Bush articulated his pre-emptive war doctrine. My brother was gravely injured in Iraq in 2004. It was among the life events that propelled me to political activism. It was military adventurism that put my brother’s life at risk, but it was a single payer healthcare system that saved him. After participating in peace activism through various organizations like Veterans for Peace, I helped found a local chapter of Progressive Democrats of America whose motto is: Healthcare not Warfare. The grassroots organization’s mission makes the explicit connection between the opportunity costs of military adventurism in terms of social infrastructure and welfare. All of my sons grew up actively involved in the peace movement, even though my oldest would grow up to attend West Point, just like my brother. I am proud that my son is keenly aware of the human costs of war and can bring that perspective to bear in his role as an army officer. One of the biggest peace rallies that I was involved in was on the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, when the Rochester Police Department kettled about 60 of us peace activists during a march on Main Street. My entire family was there, including my youngest son who as only three or four years old, at the time.
Talker: While the ultimate goal of the peace movement is for the United States to ratify the Treaty, realistically, that will not happen. Some might argue a resolution is mere symbolism and or making a kind of moral statement — or even virtue signalling. However, any resolution has binding force. How could the resolution impact Brighton? If the initiative is successful could it encourage, say, the City of Rochester to adopt the resolution?
Robin: I think that the most dynamic leaders today think transformatively, as opposed to incrementally. In order to address the challenges that we have today, we must imagine the world that we want to live in, as opposed to being constrained by our current circumstances and the limits of existing systems. As Nelson Mandela famously said: “It always seems impossible until it is done.” We are not going to wake up tomorrow and have a world free of nuclear armaments, but that doesn’t mean that should not be the end goal. Similarly, those striving for decarceration know that re-imagining the criminal legal system does not happen overnight. I think the adoption of a resolution like this is both symbolic and a moral statement. While the Town of Brighton does not have the ability to enact the mandate in the treaty, we nonetheless, are engaged in collective activism that raises awareness about the issue and makes a moral statement about where our money will be invested.Talker: You plan to the discuss idea at the 1/19 Community Services Committee Meeting at 9:30 AM at the Brookside School, 220 Idlewood Rd, in the Multipurpose Room. Ultimately, any resolution would require a public hearing. What community do you anticipate? Do you you think the would pass the resolution?
Robin: The Town Board has passed similar resolutions asking that our jurisdictional partners at the state and federal level take action on issues over which we do not have jurisdiction at the local level. We passed a resolution encouraging the New York State Legislature to adopt the Green Amendment, which amends the NY Constitution to guarantee the right to clean air, water and a healthful environment to all its residents. The State Legislature eventually did pass the resolution amending the State Constitution, and the Green Amendment was passed by referendum during the most recent election. Similarly, the Town Board passed a resolution in support of passing the American Rescue Plan Act when it was stalled in Congress.
Because this matter has been formally brought to our attention by a resident of the Town, we will discuss the matter in public session—in this case during the Community Services Committee meeting— which I chair. The Community Services Committee convenes the third Wednesday of the month, at 9:30 AM, at the Brookside School, the physical location of the Town’s Recreation Department. This matter will formally be on our January, 2022 agenda, and as with all of the standing committees of the Town Board, the public is invited to attend and offer input. I do not know that the Town Board will take action to formally pass a resolution, but we will certainly discuss the matter and its potential implications for the community.
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