Oak Creek, WI – On Friday, February 2, the Milwaukee Anti-war Committee (MAC) and around 30 supporters gathered at Drexel Town Square in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, and marched through the town center to the headquarters of Astronautics Corporation of America.
Astronautic, founded in Milwaukee in 1959, is a defense corporation contracted with the U.S. military and has direct ties to the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Protesters’ voices ringing out in the street and echoing off of apartment buildings, the passionate crowd chanted, “Astronautics you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!”
This was the third protest that MAC held against Astronautics, a corporation with a long history of war profiteering, specifically making computers and systems for weapons and fighter jets used all around the world. After stopping at Astronautics headquarters, the crowd heard speeches from MAC and two other local organizations, Students for a Democratic Society at UW-Milwaukee (SDS-UWM) and Freedom Road Socialist Organization – Wisconsin (FRSO-WI).
Each speaker highlighted the local ties of Astronautics and the U.S. war machine more broadly to people’s everyday lives in Milwaukee.
“Astronautics partners with other global defense industry giants such as: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, The Israeli Aircraft Industries, and many more. But they are also heavily embedded in our own community,” said Sara Onitsuka, chair of MAC. “They sponsor the Milwaukee Air and Water Show every summer, which is marketed as a family-friendly event despite being a huge recruiting and propaganda fest for the U.S. military. They attend career fairs at colleges and offer internships to young people to entice them into joining the Astronautics team.”
Onitsuka continued, describing why the company’s involvement in the community is so problematic: “Kids and youth here, locally, are being taught the narrative that we need these kinds of corporations to stimulate the economy. That they’re beneficial and good and have our personal interests in mind – never mind the death and destruction they are dealing abroad. And never mind that at home many people also don’t have access to what we need – healthcare, safe and affordable housing, even a basic living wage.”
Audari Tamayo, member of SDS-UWM, drew connections between Astronautics and the names of buildings at the UW-Milwaukee campus, stating, “Just like this innocuous-looking building houses genocide abettors, our university houses the name of a genocide perpetrator, Golda Meir, and the last name of the co-founder of this shameless company, Nathaniel Zelazo. In an attempt to wash the blood off their hands, Nathaniel Zelazo funded the construction of the Helene Zelazo Center for Performing Arts,” he said, to boos from the crowd. Tamayo explained that Nathaniel Zelazo “named it after his wife, but who cares about the love story of a war criminal? Astronautics is shameless. UWM is shameless. We must call these executives what they are: war criminals.”
Finally, Lo Cross, a member of FRSO, described the connections across movements for liberation. “When Astronautics manufactures weapons to murder innocent Palestinians abroad, weapons manufacturers, under the same orders from the military here, manufacture weapons to massacre and bomb the oppressed here, in Tulsa, in Philly. In both instances the goal being to further dispossess and massacre Black, brown and Indigenous communities.”
Cross described how organizing in FRSO helps them continue to fight for the liberation of all people. “But being a part of a revolutionary organization means you realize that as long as freedom is a power that can be taken away it’s something that you will always have to fight for. And the struggle that will really create lasting change is the struggle for liberation – the struggle for the liberation of the nationally oppressed and the struggle for the liberation of the working class!”
Many cars and trucks passing by honked in support of the march. MAC will continue putting the pressure on the Milwaukee born-and-bred Astronautics, making it known city and metro wide that the corporation profits off of genocide and that the people will not stand for it.