Biltmore Park Vigil - February 26th

Twenty RejectRaytheonAVL protesters braved the wet, cold weather to raise their voices at Biltmore Park, home of the offices of Biltmore Farms, LLC, the owner and developer of the land where the excavation for the Pratt & Whitney plant and access bridge is well underway. A group of protestors walked to Biltmore Park Town Center to deliver a letter to Jack Cecil, CEO  of Biltmore Farms. See letter here: Letter to Jack Cecil

Raytheon's Reach

While the local Pratt & Whitney manufacturing plant may not contribute directly to surveillance at the US southern border and borders around the world, it’s parent company, Raytheon Technologies, does, and in a very big way. This is how the war economy works.


These pictures were taken in mid-February of the most recent excavation of the east side of the French Broad where workers have cleared the path and pad for the bridge. The pictures then follow the swath that’s been cleared for the road up to the manufacturing plant. They end with the vast area cleared for the  factory site itself. Destruction of a once thick forest.

The Peace Report Podcast: Rejecting Raytheon and Beyond


Jenny and Ken, two members of the Reject Raytheon AVL movement, were interviewed by The Peace Report creator, Will Griffin, in this podcast. They capture the way the movement began and what issues are important to the fight against Raytheon and other military contractors.


Will Griffin was a paratrooper in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Since leaving the military, he has dedicated himself to anti-war and anti-imperialism learning and activism. He created the news platform, The Peace Report, to inform others about what he is learning. From The Peace Report Facebook page, he says about his media platform, "The goal of The Peace Report is to provide antiwar news and to provide ways to fight against the US war machine. TPR will provide ways to organize with existing organizations and new ideas to create a more peaceful world. . . .TPR wants to [help] organize people into participating in the political system to fight back against racism, materialism, and militarism."






Letter to the Editor: Ike’s timely warning and our current reality

by Gerry Werhan, Posted on January 31, 2021 in Mountain Express

Sixty years ago this month, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower wrapped up his two terms in office, preceded by a military career that included being supreme commander of Allied forces in Western Europe during World War II, with a farewell address to the nation. 

Much of the speech came from his heart and with knowledge, experience and wisdom in warning us about the military-industrial complex, which was just emerging at the time. His words, with my emphasis, follow.

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Sixty years ago, he spoke those words to our nation. Some 60 days ago, we witnessed the seductive economic, political and spiritual influence of the military-industrial complex when the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to give an economic development package worth $27 million to war profiteer Pratt & Whitney/Raytheon.

Some 30 citizens passionate about peace and justice made public comments against this deal. The commissioners heard but did not listen.

We also should understand the cost of war in terms of lost opportunities. President Eisenhower said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

War drains our national treasure away from our real needs, such as providing health care, especially in this time of pandemic, investing in a Green New Deal in order to address climate change and providing reparations for our African American brothers and sisters in order to address the huge economic inequities in this country.

Using tax incentives to bring Raytheon’s jobs here is a clear example of a lost economic opportunity. We know that more and better jobs are created by spending on clean energy, health care, education and infrastructure than are created by the military-industrial complex. Why invest in a multinational industry that depends on fossil fuels and a war economy when we could be investing in our own people and getting a better return on our investment? And working toward a more sustainable future?

We Veterans for Peace know from firsthand experience the causes and costs of war and war profiteering.

We are all the alert and knowledgeable citizenry that President Eisenhower warned would be necessary to prevent what we see happening in Buncombe County and we say: “No more, reject Raytheon!”

— Gerry Werhan

President/Veterans For Peace, Western NC Chapter Asheville

P.S.: Further evidence of the unwarranted influence of the military-industrial complex in these times: According to Bloomberg News, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, President Joe Biden’s pick for defense secretary, may get as much as $1.7 million in payments tied to the board seat he’d be giving up at defense contractor Raytheon Technologies Co.

A Movement. Just Getting Started.

The site for the Pratt & Whitney (P&W, a division of Raytheon Technologies) plant being planned for Asheville is now being cleared of trees so that construction on the 1.2 million sq. ft. plant can begin soon. It looks like mountaintop removal, a not unfamiliar occurrence here in the Appalachian Mountains.  It breaks my heart to see it.

P&W builds engines for commercial and military jets, most notoriously for the state-of-the-art F-35 Lightning Fighter Jet. Raytheon is the 2nd largest arms manufacturer in the world, a major war profiteer.

Our local coalition of resistance to this project, called Reject Raytheon, is now just over 2 months old. We started out as members of 3 organizations - Veterans for Peace (VFP), Sunrise, and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) - who showed up at the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to object to the $27 million incentive agreement being offered for P&W to locate here.

Since then, we've gotten organized and are active on social media with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and are working on a website. See links below. We also have done a few public actions, trying to raise public awareness about this project - which was only made public in October 2020, after some 15 months of secret negotiations among state & county officials, local business execs and foundations, and the corporation itself.

We did a die-in at Vance Monument in the center of Asheville.

We did a rally as part of the international day of action to celebrate the Entry into Force of the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons - Raytheon has over a billion dollars of contracts in the nuclear weapons industry.


We did a roadside vigil as part of the international day of action to Say No to the War in Yemen - Raytheon is a major weapons profiteer in that genocidal conflict.

We are just getting started. Our immediate objective is to get the county to rescind its incentive agreement, thereby causing Raytheon to go away. If that doesn't happen, we are in this for the long haul and will use this new presence from the military-industrial complex in our community as a focal point for organizing against war, climate change, and environmental destruction. And for peace, green jobs, and a sustainable future.