NE PA. Peace Groups Shut Down Weapons Plant for One Day

December 04, 2023




Artillery shell production halted in President Biden's hometown

SCRANTON PA – For the sixth Sunday in a row yesterday, people protested at the front gate of the Scranton Army Ammunition Plant, run by General Dynamics Corp., to protest production of weapons used in Israel's bombardment of Gaza. 150 people marched, chanted and listened to speakers in the rain. 

Widely circulated notices of yesterday's rally at what locals call "the Slaughterhouse on Cedar Ave.," stated that for the first time in the weekly protests, activists would stage a die-in and some were prepared to be arrested for blocking the gate at the usual shift change at 1:00pm, but yesterday there was no shift. 

Frankie Malacaria, an organizer with the Northeast Pennsylvania Democratic Socialists of America (NEPA DSA), said the past six Sundays they were at the plant gates, the shift ended at 1:00pm and workers left the facility. 

"Yesterday, the plant was silent when we arrived at 11am, with very few cars in the parking lot. At 1:00 pm, when shifts consistently ended the last six weeks, the gates stayed closed and no one left. We can only conclude no artillery shells were produced during the preceding 12-hour shift. We had an impact. No weapons of war were made that day." 

A report published in the Scranton Times said they were not able to get a response from plant officials. 

In shutting down the plant, protesters said that they were enforcing the Leahy Law (Section 362-Title 10 U.S. Code) because President Biden and the U.S. Congress are failing to do so with respect to Israel's attacks against Palestinians. The law prohibits the U.S. from sending weapons to military forces that are grossly violating human rights. 

Dozens of resisters did a solemn funeral procession carrying shrouded symbolic children and a local Imam chanted funeral prayers for the innocents murdered by Israelis. 

Those risking arrest included Mike Ferner, National Director of Veterans For Peace (VFP), Jack Gilroy, member of VFP Chapter 90 of Binghamton, NY, and Ariel Gold, Executive Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR).

Local residents said the plant has operated seven days a week at maximum production, since last year when the U.S. started arming the Ukraine government in its war with Russia. An Army video stated the 15-acre plant, reportedly the largest of its kind in the U.S., can produce up to a million projectiles a year, most of which are 155 mm artillery shells, which are then sent to a plant in Iowa to be loaded with explosives. 

Organizations sponsoring the demonstration included N.E. Pennsylvania for Palestine, NEPA DSA, Veterans For Peace, Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the People's Guild, the same groups that organized the six previous Scranton rallies, plus one other at the state capitol in Harrisburg. 

In less than 2 months, 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, including some 8,000 children. These numbers cannot be exact because many Palestinians are still under rubble from bombing. Within the 25 by 5 mile strip of land that is called Gaza, 1.7 million people have been internally displaced. Hospitals had become refuge for many, and they have been bombed, along with refugee camps. Israel has occupied Palestine for 75 years.

Photo:  Mike Ferner, Director of Veterans For Peace (center) and Jack Gilroy, of VFP Chapter 90, Binghamton, NY, risking arrest by lying in the entrance of the Scranton (PA) Army Ammunition Plant on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023.     Photo by Nick Mottern

Local press coverage of the 12-3-23 Scranton protest at General Dynamics Corp. munitions plant.