Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The (Exceptional) American Way Inspires Resistance All Over The Planet

Photo credit: Roger Leisner, Maine Paparazzi
Meet Jason Rawn, the youngest member of the Zumwalt 12, arrested for civil disobedience in the street outside General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard on June 18.

Jason recently returned to the U.S. from participating in protests of U.S. military presence in Okinawa that look like this:
Photo credit: Reuters via Irish Times, "Huge protests at U.S. bases after Japanese woman's murder" June 19, 2016
Much of Jason's recent trip to Asia was also spent in solidarity actions, including planned arrests to block ongoing construction in Gangjeong Village, Jeju Island, South Korea. The Bath action on June 18 was in solidarity with the resistance group whose soft coral reef was entombed in concrete by South Korea's Navy working under the direction of the Pentagon to port large warships such as the Zumwalt class destroyer. 

Photo credit: Jason Rawn
Here's Jason being arrested by South Korean police for civil disobedience outside the navy base on Jeju Island:

Photo credit: Jason Rawn

As you can see from these photos, Jason has the gear and the determination for civil disobedience to resist militarism in every season. Here we see a banner displayed by activists on Jeju with Jason's trademark slogan, Dive$t from the Pentagon:
Photo credit: Jason Rawn
I have followed Jason's posts from Jeju and Okinawa these past several months with interest. He often highlighted the creative components of resistance there including performances, songs and visual displays.
Photo credit: Jason Rawn
Singers lift spirits at naval base resistance on Jeju Island
Photo credit: Jason Rawn
Artists at work on Jeju Island
The role of artists in lifting the spirits and supporting the solidarity of resistance movements cannot be overstated. It, too, finds a parallel in Maine where those arrested on July 18 held a banner created by the Artists Rapid Response Team (AART!) of the Union of Maine Visual Artists:
Photo credit: Regis Tremblay from "One More Warship: Remarks at the Launching of a Stealth Destroyer" by Dud Hendrick in Common Dreams, June 20, 2016
Photo credit: Roger Leisner, Maine Paparazzi
Another of the Zumwalt 12, artist Russell Wray, created and displayed a sculpture entitled "Maka the Dolphin" and a banner as beautiful as it is clear about why to resist the militarization of our oceans. Many children who passed by the display in Bath on June 18 remarked with excitement about the lovingly rendered dolphin.
Photo credit: Regis Tremblay of Rosie Tyler Paul harmonizing with singer-songwriter Mike Hasty in Bath.
From "More Photos From 'Stealth' Destroyer Protests at BIW in Maine" by Bruce Gagnon in Organizing Notes, June 18, 2016
As is evident from the reflection in Jason's sunglasses at the beginning of this post, the photographers who document resistance actions are another integral part of the movement resisting militarization. I have credited many of them here but it would be difficult to note them all; no matter what the corporate press in the U.S. lead you to believe, there are many of us working to resist the Pentagon's encroachment on our natural resources, our financial resources, and on innocent people around the planet. 

One more photographer whose contributions I'll note is Jenny Gray, who provided some of the most compelling photos of the civil disobedience sit-down action to block Washington Street in Bath:

Photo credit: Jenny Gray

Photo credit: Jenny Gray. Note Russel Wray in the dolphin hat he created for the occasion.
Can you find Jason Rawn in this photo? He's right there amid his blessed community of those not afraid to speak out and act out for peace. This is his rightful place and he often looks the happiest there. Let's join him.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

“I’m Not Sure How The Destroyer Addresses Terrorism, Exactly”

Civil disobedience in progress at General Dynamics in Bath, Maine on July 18.

For the first time at the christening[sic] of a warship in Bath, Maine, civil disobedience was part of the protests. Barred from entering with other members of the public at the last "christening" of a destroyer, protesters yesterday decided to block the busy street directly in front of the gate where some of them were denied entrance last time around. 

During the arrest process a police officer told them, "You all are the conscience of the community."
The Zumwalt 12 after being arrested for blocking the road in front of General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard June 18.
Back row, L to R: Jason Rawn, John Morris, Bruce Gagnon, Joan Peck, Brown Lethem, Connie Jenkins, Dud Hendrick
Middle: George Kehoe-Ostensen Front: John Peck, Tarak Kauff, Cynthia Howard & Russell Wray

VFP member Peter Morgan had the quote of the day, telling the Portland Press Herald (PPH) about a warship that cost $4.1 billion to build: "I’m not sure how the destroyer addresses terrorism, exactly."

Possibly because the Bath Police Department put out a press release about the arrests, several corporate media outlets covered the protests. (Reporters have told protesters in the past that they are not "allowed" to re-enter the shipyard if they step outside to report on the scores of people calling for an end to building weapons of mass destruction at BIW.)

The PPH's coverage of the protests read:
Not everyone who traveled to BIW on Saturday was there to celebrate the christening of a new Navy destroyer. A group of about 30 protesters held a rally just outside the shipyard to draw attention to concerns such as the human and financial costs of wars, and the U.S. military’s contributions to pollution and global warming. 
Twelve protesters were arrested after they blocked Washington Street in front of the shipyard’s south gate, Bath police said. The protesters were from Maine Veterans for Peace and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, police said. 
The dozen – all from Maine except for one man from Woodstock, New York – sat down in the road and refused to move, at which point they were arrested and charged with obstructing a public way. Police said the protesters were cooperative and were released on their personal recognizance after booking, with a court date of Aug. 2. 
Peter Morgan of Veterans for Peace said he thinks the money spent on building Zumwalt-class destroyers could be put to better use, such as by helping those in need and repairing the country’s aging infrastructure. 
“I’m not sure how the destroyer addresses terrorism, exactly,” he said.
An excellent question. If the U.S. taxpayer is gulled into buying a $4.1 billion destroyer even as the infrastructure of Bath's own roadways crumbles and fails, it is usually justified by the endless so-called "war on terror." But an enormous destroyer capable of evading radar off the coast of Russia or China is of little use against insurgents employing terror tactics in Iraq or Syria. 

What a destroyer is for: provoking big nations that threaten U.S. global dominance -- and thereby making General Dynamics' owners even more obscenely wealthy.

No news outlets connected the dots between warships built in Bath and the destruction of sea life and fishing grounds halfway around the planet to port the behemoths. But I was pleased to be asked to read out the solidarity statement sent by the resistance community of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island in South Korea.

Many from the peace community spoke or sang at Saturday's rally. Jorgen Ostensen, 17, told the crowd he has been joining protests of weaponized warships at BIW since age 1. He said during the closing circle that if Muhammad Ali were alive and in Maine, he thought Ali would have come to Bath to protest. I think so, too.

Arraignment of the Zumwalt 12 will be in West Bath District Court on August 2 at 1:00 pm.