US activists protest BlackRock annual meeting

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A large group of demonstrators on a pavement, with bright pink banners
US peace activists protest the BlackRock AGM, photo: CodePink

On 23rd May, members of US peace organisations protested in front of BlackRock’s office in Manhattan, New York, while the companies shareholders attended the annual meeting. BlackRock is an asset management company, helping investors invest their money. BlackRock has a fund dedicated to investing in “defence spending”, with billions of dollars invested in some of the world’s biggest arms companies.

Organizations including CODEPINK, Action Corps NYC, The Coalition to End the U.S.-Saudi Alliance, Catholic Worker, the Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point Center, Enlace, Granny Peace Brigade, Gulf Coast Raging Grannies, Muslim Peace Fellowship, Muslims United for Justice, NYC Metro Raging Grannies, Peace Action New York State, Seeding Sovereignty, Show Up America, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace NYC Chapter 34, War Resisters League NYC, World Beyond War, and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom protested the world’s largest shadow bank for its practice of investing in weapons manufacturers and companies that profit from war and violence, in the U.S. and around the world.

BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world, controlling more than $5 trillion in assets. One of BlackRock’s iShares funds is exclusively dedicated to “defence spending” – BlackRock has $7.25 billion invested in Boeing; $3.3 billion in General Dynamics; $5.6 billion in Lockheed Martin; $3.4 billion in Northrop Grumman; and $4 billion in Raytheon. Additionally, BlackRock holds investments in civilian gun manufacturers such as Sturm Ruger, Remington, and American Outdoor Brands (formerly Smith & Wesson). Over the last ten years, the number of arms in the world has passed 1bn, with 85% held by civilians. 40% of all weapons held are in the US, where there are 121 weapons for every 100 residents.

BlackRock’s investments are used to fuel war and violence, with the weapons built by the arms companies they invest used in conflicts around the world. In Syria, thousands of civilians have been killed with U.S. weapons since 2014. In Yemen, one child dies every ten minutes from a preventable disease. In just the last seven weeks in Gaza, over a hundred Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire while peacefully protesting. And in America, 2018 has already seen 22 school shootings – while BlackRock remains the leading investor in American Outdoor Brands, America’s number one gun manufacturer.

“BlackRock claims to hold companies accountable for being socially responsible citizens, while their executives and shareholders continue to profit off of the most morally-corrupt companies in the world. They are making a killing on killing,” says Sarah Eckel-Dalrymple, CODEPINK’s Divest from the War Machine Campaign Manager. “Corporate accountability must extend to those who hold the shares of these companies. There should be no profit from war and violence.”

 

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