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Palestine protesters shut down Lockheed Martin subsidiary

By Robyn Harbison

Saint Paul, Minnesota protest shuts down weapons maker, stands in solidarity with Palestine. | Fight Back! News/Kim DeFranco

St. Paul, MN – During the early morning hours of November 20, 50 pro-Palestine protesters gathered at the site of Lockheed Martin’s new microelectronics subsidiary, ForwardEdge ASIC, in Saint Paul. They unfurled long banners, one reading, “MN, divest from Lockheed,” and blocked the driveway entrances to the facility for almost eight hours.

Police arrived shortly after the activists occupied the space and made their presence throughout the day, but no arrests were made. Due to the protesters’ presence, no employees of ForwardEdge ASIC were able to enter the facility and go to work that morning. The parking lot remained empty save for a lone security guard’s vehicle.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest weapons company by revenue and one of the major suppliers to the Israel Defense Forces. Lockheed Martin supplies Israel with a wide variety of weapons, including fighter jets, attack helicopters, and missiles. Lockheed Martin technologies are also integrated into Israel's main weapon systems.

Activists participated in as part of the newly formed Free Palestine Coalition in the Twin Cities, which comprises groups such as the Anti-War Committee (AWC), American Muslims for Palestine – MN, Council on American-Islamic Relations – MN, Students for Justice in Palestine – UMN, Students for a Democratic Society – UMN, Women Against Military Madness (WAMM), Jews Against Genocide, Red Nation, and several others.

Protesters emphasized the role of the state of Minnesota in funding Lockheed as well as other companies that make possible Israel’s violence against Palestinians. “Minnesota granted Lockheed over $1 million to open the Saint Paul facility this year,” explained Wyatt Miller of the AWC. “Meanwhile, the State Board of Investments has invested over $53 million of public pension money it controls in Lockheed. Governor Tim Walz chairs that board, so we also want to send a message that Minnesotans don’t want to see our taxpayer dollars used to fund this massacre in any way.”

After protesters determined that a majority of the workday had been disrupted, they marched in unity towards the facility to plaster the building with the protest signs as a show of victory.

Sarah Martin, a longtime anti-war activist with WAMM who was prepared to be arrested Monday, stated, “Because of our presence, weapons components were not made at the facility today by a manufacturer largely responsible for the murder of Palestinian children.”

“Protesters across the world have been shutting down business as usual as long as this massacre of Gaza continues,” said Miller. “We are proud to do what we can to slow the operations of the U.S. military-industrial complex, which is the backbone of Israel’s oppression of Palestine.”

Governor Walz announced in May 2023 that the state of Minnesota would grant around $1.3 million from the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund programs. In October, shortly after the facility began operations, hundreds of anti-war protesters rallied outside to demand its closure and an end to state support for all weapons companies.

Local groups like the AWC, Breaking the Bonds MN, and MN BDS Community have long called for the SBI to divest from apartheid Israel. According to the AWC, the latest SBI asset listing shows around $1 billion of investment in companies and funds complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The Free Palestine Coalition’s next protest is at the Minnesota State Capitol on Tuesday, November 28 at 6 p.m. on the eve of the next State Board of Investment meeting. There, protesters will demand that the state of Minnesota divest from Israeli companies and weapons manufacturers that profit from Israeli occupation and apartheid.

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