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Protesters gather at arms manufacturers conference

Anti-war activists gathered outside an arms manufacturers conference on Monday in Newport to protest the military-industrial complex and to support a bill that would require congressional approval for a pre-emptive nuclear strike. The Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance (SENEDIA) met for the conference at the Newport Marriott hotel.

Members from the Rhode Island Anti-War Committee said that they want to stop Rhode Island from becoming more dependent on the weapons manufacturing industry.

“I’m opposed to any increase in the dominance of arms manufacturing in the Rhode Island economy,” said Pat Fontes, a member of the RI Anti-War Committee. “I think it’s time that we begin thinking about converting from arms manufacturing to other more socially useful forms of production.”

In addition to the broader goal of reducing the reach of the arms industry in Rhode Island, activists wanted to get the attention of Senator Jack Reed, who gave a keynote speech at the conference. Reed has not yet backed a bill that Congressman David Cicilline is pushing for, which would require congressional approval for pre-emptive nuclear strikes. The Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act would still allow the president to retaliate for a nuclear strike.

“[Reed] has gone on record saying the current president is crazy, so if he’s worried, why leave the president with the authority to fire nuclear weapons on his own whims?” said Randall Rose, another member of the RI Anti-War Committee. “This conference represents a lot of what’s wrong with how we get into war and why we stay. No matter what the public wants, no matter who’s president, the wars keep going, and they are making us less safe and less free.”

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