(Photo Caption: CAPA (Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts School) students organized a walk-out to protest gun violence in solidarity with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students in Parkland, FL (Photos: ppuglobe.com)
By Thomas Severin
On Saturday, March 10, at noon, a group of 12 protesters met at 45 McIntyre Square Drive, directly in front of the PNC bank at that location. We stationed ourselves at the main four-way intersection, closest to the bank, holding up signs saying “Stop Banking the Bomb.”
The intersection turned out to have high-volume traffic, with somewhere between 400 and 500 cars passing through during the 45-minute period allotted for the protest. The vast majority of drivers passing by made direct eye contact with our signs, some giving thumbs up in support of our cause and some stopping to ask what it was we were protesting. To those who stopped to ask about the protest, we simply stated that we were protesting the fact that PNC bank is one of the major investors in companies that make nuclear weapons. Most who stopped reacted positively to our explanation of how their deposits are being used. One woman expressed astonishment, and thanked us for making her aware of PNC”s investment in war making materials.
Everyone braved the cold, tempered by sunshine, thankful that it didn’t rain. Plans were made for the next “Stop Banking the Bomb” protest at the PNC Tower, which will take place on Friday, April 20th at 12PM. We hope to increase our numbers at this event and ask that you consider joining us that day.
Another event, a Teach-In, was video recorded for those who could not attend the event at the Barco Law Building at the University of Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, March 25. Andrew Ohl, who studied History and Political science at Kent State, spoke about an organization called “Beyond the Bomb,” which is advocating for legislation banning a first-use of nuclear weapons. Andrew presented an historical perspective analyzing U.S nuclear strategy and ways to refute the rationale given by those who support the deployment of nuclear weapons.
A second speaker at the Teach-In was Zeba Ahmed, a member of an organization called “Remembering Hiroshima, Imagining Peace.” Zeba discussed the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and its environmental, physical, economic and social consequences. Zeba has been working in the Pittsburgh area with the goal of informing our community about the ramifications of nuclear disasters in both peace and war time. Our hope is that this “Teach In” provided the public with the information to speak knowledgeably about the negative consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, so as to convince the public and the officers in PNC bank to divest from any contracts that provide funds for the manufacturing of nuclear weapons.
The Stop Banking the Bomb pickets and the Teach-in were events that were an excellent lead-in to Holy Week. Jesus is well known for His opposition to any form of violence and the use of nuclear weapons is about as violent as we can get in this age. Let us all be promoters of peace and fullness of life for all of humanity.
Thomas Severin is a member of the Thomas Merton Center and the Association of Pittsburgh Priests.