Divest Cville Responses to Possible Objections

Main Divest Cville page.

Does Charlottesville really have investments in weapons dealers and fossil fuel producers?

Yes. Here’s Cville Weekly article re fossil fuels. Here’s a list of investments provided by the City that includes obvious weapons dealers like Boeing and Honeywell. Here’s more information from the City.

But I know of products those companies make that are not weapons. What gives?

Boeing is the second biggest Pentagon contractor and one of the biggest dealers of weaponry to brutal dictatorships around the world, such as Saudi Arabia. Honeywell is a major weapons dealer.

Can Charlottesville do this?

Yes, Charlottesville divested from South Africa, and more recently from Sudan. Charlottesville has urged state and federal governments in recent years to take actions on wars, drones, and budgetary priorities. Charlottesville can and should act on national and global issues, but this issue is local. It’s our local money, and our locality is impacted by war, war culture, gun sales, and climate destruction. Berkeley, Calif., recently passed divestment from weapons. New York City has introduced it, and has passed divestment from fossil fuels, as have other cities (and nations!)

Can Charlottesville do this and not lose money?

Setting aside the dubious morality and legality of such a question, and noting the responsibility of the City government not to endanger the lives of residents by investing in the destruction of a habitable climate and in the proliferation of weapons, the answer to the question is yes. Here is a helpful article. Here’s another.

Should Charlottesville do even more that we are asking for?

There are unlimited ways in which investments can be made less unethical. Further categories of bad investments could be banned. Proactive efforts to invest in the most ethical places could be required and taken. We have no objections to going further, but are asking for what we see as the most important minimum standards.

Aren’t the environment and weapons two different things?

Of course, and we have no objection to creating two resolutions instead of one, but we believe that one makes the most sense as it accomplishes the further public good of highlighting the numerous connections between the two areas (as detailed in the resolution on the main Divest Cville page and here).

Shouldn’t Charlottesville stop sticking its nose into important matters?

The most common objection to local resolutions on national or global topics, which this could be construed as at a stretch, is that it is not a proper role for a locality. This objection is easily refuted. Passing such a resolution is a moment’s work that costs a locality no resources.

Americans are supposed to be directly represented in Congress. Their local and state governments are also supposed to represent them to Congress. A representative in Congress represents over 650,000 people — an impossible task.Most city council members in the United States take an oath of office promising to support the U.S. Constitution. Representing their constituents to higher levels of government is part of how they do that.

Cities and towns routinely and properly send petitions to Congress for all kinds of requests. This is allowed under Clause 3, Rule XII, Section 819, of the Rules of the House of Representatives. This clause is routinely used to accept petitions from cities, and memorials from states, all across America. The same is established in the Jefferson Manual, the rule book for the House originally written by Thomas Jefferson for the Senate.

In 1798, the Virginia State Legislature passed a resolution using the words of Thomas Jefferson condemning federal policies penalizing France.

In 1967 a court in California ruled (Farley v. Healey , 67 Cal.2d 325) in favor of citizens’ right to place a referendum on the ballot opposing the Vietnam War, ruling: “As representatives of local communities, board of supervisors and city councils have traditionally made declarations of policy on matters of concern to the community whether or not they had power to effectuate such declarations by binding legislation. Indeed, one of the purposes of local government is to represent its citizens before the Congress, the Legislature, and administrative agencies in matters over which the local government has no power. Even in matters of foreign policy it is not uncommon for local legislative bodies to make their positions known.”

Abolitionists passed local resolutions against U.S. policies on slavery. The anti-apartheid movement did the same, as did the nuclear freeze movement, the movement against the PATRIOT Act, the movement in favor of the Kyoto Protocol (which includes at least 740 cities), etc. Our democratic republic has a rich tradition of municipal action on national and international issues.

Karen Dolan of Cities for Peace writes: “A prime example of how direct citizen participation through municipal governments has affected both U.S. and world policy is the example of the local divestment campaigns opposing both Apartheid in South Africa and, effectively, the Reagan foreign policy of “constructive engagement” with South Africa. As internal and global pressure was destabilizing the Apartheid government of South Africa, the municipal divestment campaigns in the United States ramped up pressure and helped to push to victory the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. This extraordinary accomplishment was achieved despite a Reagan veto and while the Senate was in Republican hands. The pressure felt by national lawmakers from the 14 U.S. states and close to 100 U.S. cities that had divested from South Africa made the critical difference. Within three weeks of the veto override, IBM and General Motors also announced they were withdrawing from South Africa.”

Main Divest Cville page.

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