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‘Killing civilians’: US activists protest arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
One of the cars that was blocking Raytheon's entrance in Portsmouth on Thursday read, "No more civilian deaths. (Photo by Boston Globe)

A number of activists in the US state of Rhode Island on Thursday blocked the entrance to a major American arms manufacturing firm, protesting its role in “killing of civilians” and “other human rights abuses.”

The massive demonstration, which reportedly led to hours of ordeal in the blazing heat, saw protesters attaching themselves to cars and blocking the entrance to the Raytheon plant in Portsmouth.

They slammed Raytheon, which has a missile and defense subsidiary in Portsmouth, for its military dealings with Saudi Arabia and the Israel regime, saying they kill innocent civilians with Raytheon’s help.

The cars had “no more civilian death” painted on them, calling on the American defense conglomerate to stop aiding and abetting terrorism perpetuated by Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

Protesters also held up a placard with “Palestine” written on it and chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan immortalized by pro-Palestine advocates across the world.

They chanted, “Raytheon has got to go!” and, toward the two men who were attached to the cars, “We see you, we love you”, said a report in the Boston Globe.

Authorities took one of the men into a police van, while the other man was freed, reports said. They were identified as Frank Fortino, 26, of Providence, and Nicholas Katkevich, 36, of Bristol.

In a statement, the activists said that it was protesting the Waltham, Massachusetts-based defense contractor’s “weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and their involvement in enforcing the US- Mexican border.”

“Raytheon profits from the killing of civilians, families, and children in Palestine, Yemen, and elsewhere,” the statement said, as quoted by different news agencies.

The company is ranked as the second largest military contractor in the world by Defense News. It brought in $42 billion in defense-related revenue during fiscal 2020, said a report in Defense News.

Raytheon Company (ranked 5th last year) and United Technologies Corporation (ranked 10th last year) merged in April 2020 to form Raytheon Technologies.

The company’s plant in Portsmouth focuses on what it calls sea power capability — sensors, combat management systems, radar and sonar, with around 1,000 people employed at the facility.

In 2019, Riyadh, which is among the top five defense spenders in the world, signed a deal with Raytheon to localize maintenance of its Patriot missile defense system.

Raytheon also works closely with Rafael, one of the largest military contractors for the Israeli regime.


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