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. 

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