Tuesday, August 2, 2016

"Conscience Of The Community" Arraigned Today For Bath Iron Works Civil Disobedience

Some of the Zumwalt 12 being arrested by Bath police outside General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works shipyard on June 18, 2016. Their act of civil disobedience blocked the roadway in front of the shipyard gate as the crew of the nuclear destroyer approached it to enter for the "christening" ceremony attended by representatives of both corporate parties.
Defendants Bruce Gagnon,  Dud Hendrick, Cynthia Howard, Constance Jenkins, Tarak Kauff, Richard Lethem, John Morris, George Ostensen, Joan Peck, John Peck, Jason Rawn, and Russell Wray, represented by civil rights attorney Lynne Williams, were arraigned today in Bath, Maine.

Following the planned act of civil disobedience which resulted in their arrest on June 18, a Bath police officer told them during the booking process, "You all are the conscience of the community."

The Zumwalt 12 were among approximately fifty people who gathered in Bath to protest the launch of yet another fantastically expensive weapon of mass destruction. The Zumwalt class destroyer reportedly cost $4.1 billion to build and was "christened" with the usual fanfare reserved for the only viable jobs program in the U.S. today, that of contracting for the Pentagon.

Dud Hendrick of Veterans for Peace (VFP) wrote of his decision to face arrest for the crime of obstructing a public way:

Our Congress, voting again and again for increased military expenditures, is like a pack of drunken sailors, totally out of control, but comparing them with military men would be unfair—given they are almost all millionaires or better and that their pockets and campaign war chests are lined with coin from those who benefit directly from our war-making---the wealthy elite who run the behemoth corporations of the defense and security industries.   
A protester who was not arrested was quoted by the Portland Press Herald reporter on the scene:
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.
Defendants and supporters in the courtroom today. Jason Rawn displays his message of support for South Korean villagers whose livelihood and UNESCO heritage coral reef have been destroyed to built a deep water port for warships.
A bailiff herded the defendants and their supporters onto one side of the courtroom and told us that "obviously media will be here," then warned us that there would be no protesting allowed including holding up signs because "it would anger the judge and nothing good happens when the judge is angry." No comment on that, but the crowd was indeed quiet. A sheriff later stopped me from using my phone to record video even though a corporate news reporter with a big camera was present and filming throughout.

Appearing for today's arraignment on the charge of obstructing a public way were Cynthia Howard, Connie Jenkins, "Brown" Lethem, John Morris, Joan Peck, John Peck, George Ostensen, Jason Rawn and Russell Wray. The Zumwalt group sat on one side of the courtroom while numerous defendants facing criminal charges like driving 102mph, violation of a protective order stemming from domestic violence and trespass with a motor vehicle were seated on the other side. I imagined that some of the other defendants were wondering what a relatively elderly group was doing there.

All Zumwalt defendants pleaded not guilty including George Ostensen who was asked by the judge whether he understood the charges. His reply: "It was an act of civil disobedience at the launch of a Zumwalt destroyer built by General Dynamics; it's a weapon of mass destruction. We went to protest the launching of that ship. That's why the twelve of us were called here today."

Civil rights attorney Lynne Williams entered a not guilty plea for the defendants who were not present. All were given a next court date of Sep. 7 at 8:30am for their dispositional conference.

Peter Morgan of VFP was among more than a dozen people present as supporters of the Zumwalt 12 as was Jerry Provencher of Bath who said he came because he had been unable to be at the protest on June 18 but wanted "to support friends who both protested and were arrested at the "christening" ceremony." 

Alan Clemence brought his eleven year-old daughter Steffi to the arraignment explaining "it's a social studies lesson." Other supporters in attendance included Palma Ryan, Maureen Kehoe-Ostensen and daughter, Mary Beth Sullivan and Leslie Manning. Seasoned activist Mary Donnelly was there and expressed surprise that Bath Iron Works had not dismissed the charges, as has been done following the arrest of protesters at BIW in the past.

Associated Press picked up the story of today's arraignment which ran in papers across the nation including the local Times Record and the online paper for active duty military, Stars & Stripes. WCSH-TV in Portland also covered the arraignment, as did the Bangor Daily News. (I'll share those links when I find them.)

As of now, here are links to the publications I found running the AP story on today's arraignment: Stars & StripesStar HeraldDaily ProgressWest Plains Daily QuillDothan EaglePress of Atlantic City,O A Now and News Advance.

I will be glad to receive any photos taken today, or other press links, which I'll include in subsequent blog posts about the Zumwalt 12.
Outside the courtroom after the arraignment Zumwalt 12 defendants and supporters gave interviews
and strategized for their next day in West Bath District Court: Sep. 7, 2016 at 8:30am.


Peter Sirois said...

I witnessed the CD act. Protesters were all respectable and offered zero resistance to the commands of the arresting officers. The mission of the protesters was to commit an act of civil disobedience that harmed no person or property. All the while drawing attention to the vast amounts of treasure and talent being wasted on the manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. From what I saw....MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. There was clearly mutual respect displayed. The officers doing their job and the protesters doing their job. Spectators were never denied access to the launch ceremonies as I videoed them walking on the sidewalk past the blocked road.

Pete Sirois

Unknown said...

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. So grateful for the witness of these 12 and all who stand against the futility and destruction of endless war. Bless you and thank you. Leslie Manning of Bath.