Takoma Park has been a nuclear free city since 1983, meaning that the city cannot support any businesses or policies that benefit the nuclear industry.
“It has been 34 years and the law is still going strong,” says Jay Levy, chair of Nuclear Free Takoma.
Levy took the strongest language from various ordinances and compiled them into a draft law of what would become the Nuclear Free Ordinance.
The law was amended to include a committee to help enforce the policy by making recommendations to the city council for socially conscious investments and purchases.
Their most recent recommendation was to divest from SunTrust bank, a suggestion the city has agreed to take.
“SunTrust has loaned out millions, if not billions to numerous nuclear related industries,” said Levy.
The recent choice is just one victory in the committee’s 34-year long run. There have been less than half a dozen exceptions to the law, the most notable ones being the inclusion of new library computers and Motorola police scanners.
Motorola is a company that is on the no-buy list due to its strong ties to the nuclear industry. These particular scanners, however, were required by the county in order to synchronize each fire department and police station.
“There is a waiver in the Nuclear Free Ordinance in case of emergency,” explained Levy.
Although the committee will always serve as a watchdog, they also are dedicated to community outreach.
With the new administration, along with Obama-era policies in place that allowed the creation of more direct nuclear weaponry, the committee wants to help educate the public.
Levy has spoken at the United Nations and various peace conferences around the world, all on his own dollar.
“They aren’t spending a lot of money to enforce the law, and it has given us a wider audience,” Levy said.
The committee primarily stays in Takoma Park, but has worked in the district and cooperates with anyone around the world interested in Takoma Park’s nuclear free model. When Levy was creating the draft law he wanted to go far beyond nuclear free zone activities of different municipalities.
“Many declare themselves nuclear free, but it was more of a philosophy than an actual law, which forbid anything,” said Levy. “It was just a statement.”