On June 18, the day of the “christening” of the $4 billion Zumwalt stealth destroyer, peace activists protested outside of Bath Iron Works in Maine. Twelve of them were arrested after shutting down the street in front of the shipyard just as the Navy crew was entering to attend the event. They told the media that they wanted to “interrupt the celebration of endless war and corporate profit” going on inside. The dozen men and women were charged with obstructing a public way, and will be arraigned in West Bath District Court on August 2.
A police officer told one of the arrestees, “You all are the conscience of the community.”
The activists maintain that the Zumwalt is a provocative escalation of the already out-of-control arms race aimed at China and Russia.
“It is time for us to stand up and call for the reversal of this endless and illegal war cycle that our country is engaged in,” the peace activists maintained in a statement released to the media.
“It is the children that these weapons are ultimately aimed at as we see the growing refugee crisis from countries where the U.S. has been waging war.
“We stand in solidarity with people around the world who are protesting at bases where the U.S. will port these warships. Not only would these destroyers kill innocent people but their sonar also severely impacts ocean life and the toxic materials released by these ships pollute the seas and the local environments where they are ported.
“Christ would not approve of his name being used to ‘bless’ such violence and the massive waste of the public treasury, especially when so many are hungry, homeless and without jobs and medical care.”
A University of Massassachusetts-Amherst Economics Department study reveals that military spending is actually the worst way to create jobs. At the very time we face the coming ravages of climate change our tax dollars should be spent on building commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines, tidal power systems, and solar power – all of which would create more jobs at BIW.
“We intend to stand at BIW on June 18 for those who can no longer stand or speak out, like Fr. Daniel Berrigan who left this world in May. Our elected officials don’t seem to hear the many calls for the conversion of the war machine to peaceful and sustainable purposes. We feel we must risk arrest to wake up all those whose hearts are closed to the real message of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.”
More information is here at Bruce Gagnon’s Organizing Notes blog.
Protesters arrested outside destroyer christening at BIW
BATH, Maine — A group of 12 protesters, several of them members of the organization Veterans for Peace, were arrested Saturday morning outside Bath Iron Works as thousands gathered in the shipyard for the christening of the future USS Michael Monsoor.
The protesters blocked traffic on Washington Street, outside the shipyard’s south gate near the intersection of Spring Street, shortly before 9:30 a.m., while people stood in line to enter the event and the future crew of the destroyer marched into the yard, according to protester Bruce Gagnon of Bath.
“We just shut the whole street down,” Gagnon, 63, told the Bangor Daily News. “Our goal was to interrupt the celebration of endless war and corporate profit. On top of that, we’ve been wanting to do it for a long time. There was a feeling that we had to do more to speak out against this in our own community, our own state.”
In addition to Gagnon, police arrested Dudley Hendrick, 74, of Deer Isle; Cynthia Howard, 69, of Biddeford; Constance Jenkins, 68, of Orono; Tarak Kuff, 74, of Woodstock, New York; Richard Lethem, 79, of Bath; John Morris, 79, of New Gloucester; George Ostensen, 61, of Hope; Joan Peck, 69, of Brunswick; John Peck, 75, of Brunswick; Jason Rawn, 41, of Lincolnville; and Russell Wray, 61, of Hancock.
They were charged with Class E misdemeanor obstructing a public way, fingerprinted and are scheduled to appear in West Bath District Court on Aug. 2, according to a release Saturday from the Bath Police Department.
According to the release, the group blocked pedestrian and vehicular traffic in front of BIW’s South Gate, and remained despite a lawful order to leave and despite being told that if they remained, they would be arrested.
They were then arrested one at a time by Bath police and deputies from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office. According to the release, they were cooperative throughout the arrest and booking process.
Gagnon said those arrested came from all over the state to protest “because there’s just a growing frustration with the enormous waste of $4 billion for one ship and the provocative nature of these deployments going into the South Pacific.”
The DDG 1001 was named for Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after his death in Iraq in 2006.