Keep Takoma Park nuclear-free!


In an ominous turn of events, the Takoma Park City Council has voted to abolish a citizen watchdog committee with oversight of the city’s historic Nuclear-Free Zone Act. Beyond Nuclear is headquartered in Takoma Park, MD, renowned nationally and the world over for its nuclear-free status.

The Takoma Park Nuclear-Free Zone Act ensures that the City of Takoma Park does not do business with companies that manufacture, are invested in or support the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Takoma Park has been a nuclear-free zone since 1983 and is considered to have the “gold standard” among nuclear-free ordinances, precisely because of the democratic and independent oversight of a committee of citizens, known as the Nuclear-Free Takoma Park Committee.

A petition launched by former members of the now dissolved Nuclear-Free Takoma Park Committee, demands that the Takoma Park City Council reinstates the committee when it returns from its summer recess.

Citizens are concerned that by dispensing with citizen engagement, the city will weaken and even fail to comply with its nuclear-free ordinance. Despite its insistence that it is not abandoning its nuclear-free status, the city council has tasked its attorney with “reassignment” of former committee tasks within the code to city personnel, but only those tasks that are “still relevant.”

The city also insists it can adhere to its nuclear-free code by referring to Don’t Bank in the Bomb. But the city has banked on the bomb for years — first with Sun Trust and now Truist — despite advocacy to divest and the presentation, by the nuclear-free committee, of alternative banking options. This undermines confidence in the city’s assertions that it is serious about maintaining its nuclear-free status.

Staff at Beyond Nuclear, two of whom are former members of the Nuclear-Free Takoma Park Committee, are alarmed at this backward step to reduce citizen engagement at a time when the nuclear weapons danger is at its highest in our history. We view the decision as reflective of an abject failure to understand the power and leadership of nuclear-free cities (and countries) around the world, one of our only hopes in achieving a nuclear-free world.

The petition is open to non-residents of Takoma Park as well, precisely because the Takoma Park City Council needs to understand the legacy, influence and importance of its city’s role on the nuclear abolition stage. This is not a time to disband citizen engagement and take this issue behind closed doors.

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