Reject Raytheon AVL is a local movement of activists and peacemakers who have come together to ensure that the economic development of Buncombe County relies not on incentives given to war profiteering multinational corporations, but rather on investments in a sustainable local economic model. We have a responsibility to create a world that is more equitable to all inhabitants of this planet. This starts with local decision-making.

From Anger to Activism: How We Began

It all began on November 17, 2020 when the Buncombe County Commissioners met to consider, for the first time, in a public meeting, the tax incentive agreement they had negotiated with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) for a 1.2 million square foot aerospace manufacturing plant in South Asheville. During public comment, 23 people called in to make comments to the Commissioners; 22 were opposed to the tax incentives; 1 was in support. After the public comments, the Commissioners voted immediately and unanimously to give $27 million dollars in tax incentive grants to Pratt & Whitney over a 15-year period.

From the group of opposers, Reject Raytheon was born.

Mission Statement

Reject Raytheon AVL exists to highlight the connection between the military-industrial complex and climate change and to work for a peaceful, just, and sustainable future.

Goals

  • To prevent the construction and operation of the Pratt & Whitney plant in Buncombe County;
  • To educate the community about the role of Raytheon and other military contractors, including their influence in wars, climate change, nuclear weapons, and environmental damage;
  • To present alternatives to the war economy, such as sustainable economic development; investments in health, education, clean energy, infrastructure; and reparations;
  • To build an inclusive movement that reaches across barriers and fosters partnerships with local, state, national, and international organizations.  

Local Demands

The Buncombe County Commission must:

  • Rescind its vote to provide $27 million in tax incentives for Pratt & Whitney;
  • Invest in local businesses and non-profits, particularly in the areas of clean energy, health, and education;
  • Allocate funds, as promised, for reparations to the Black Asheville community;
  • Act with transparency on this project, as well as on any further development plans.

Narrative

The state, county, chamber of commerce, Golden Leaf Foundation, and Biltmore Farms engaged in a secret negotiation and compromised review process for over a year, coming to an agreement about the establishment of a Pratt & Whitney plant in Buncombe County. The public was given late notice and one hearing for comment. During this hearing, 30 of 31 speakers opposed a $27 million tax incentive deal. Then an unresponsive County Commission voted unanimously for the approval of the deal. 

The Reject Raytheon movement arose in opposition to this undemocratic process and to the deal itself. While the Buncombe County Commission may have engaged in this project to help heal our local economy from the covid pandemic, in fact it leads to many negative local effects, including the likely exploitation of a non-unionized labor force, lost opportunities for investment in local businesses, the inevitable pollution of our water, endangerment of wildlife species such as the grey bat, and greater vulnerability to climate change disasters.

At a more global level, our community is complicit in illegal and immoral wars waged in our name when we enable a war profiteering multinational corporation such as Raytheon to locate here. Moreover, massive military spending drains our economy of much needed funds for domestic health and well-being. Inviting an aerospace giant into our community wantonly disregards the existential threat of climate change, as fossil fuel consumption is a primary cause of our present planetary emergency.

As we think globally and act locally, we are compelled to oppose Raytheon’s presence in our community and to work for better alternatives to foster local employment and economic development.

Group Principles

  • Non-violence. We embody this in word and deed and as a matter of spirit, but also as an effective way of dealing with differences in perspective, power, and worldview.
  • Consensus decision-making. We ask for advice — not permission — from each other and we seek agreement. To make decisions, we ask ourselves, “Does this bring us closer to our goals?” 
  • Shared leadership. We affirm autonomy for all members, without having a hierarchical structure. We welcome imperfection, share innovations, and learn through honest mistakes, followed by honest conversations that help us move forward together. If we see something we don’t like, we contribute with something we do like, modeling an alternative.
  • Respect. Within our own circle and in our interactions with others, we refrain from name calling and personalizing any disagreements. We seek honest expression and sincere listening and a desire to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.