Thursday, September 8, 2016

#Zumwalt12 In Court As Destroyer Ship Sails In Obama's "Pivot To Pacific"

Members of the Zumwalt 12 at their arraignment in Bath on August 2. 
Report on Zumwalt 12 Court Hearing Sep. 7 and
Invite to Next Zumwalt 12 Event

by Bruce Gagnon

Eleven of the members of the Zumwalt 12 (arrested at Bath Iron Works on June 18 when we blocked the road and gate during a ‘christening ceremony) appeared in West Bath District Court early this morning.  (Our 12th member of the group Tarak Kauff is in Okinawa with a Veterans for Peace delegation). Bar Harbor attorney Lynne Williams was with us providing her expertise having represented activists following previous civil disobedience cases around Maine.
As it turned out the new $7 billion Zumwalt ‘stealth’ destroyer (the second one to be ‘christened’ at BIW) was leaving Bath today on its way to be home ported in San Diego where it will be sent into the Asia-Pacific as part of the Obama-Clinton ‘pivot’ of 60% of Pentagon military forces into the region to ‘contain’ China. 
The Associated Press has reported,  “A super-stealthy destroyer [Zumwalt] that could underpin the U.S. Navy’s China strategy will be able to sneak up on coastlines virtually undetected and pound targets with electromagnetic ‘rail guns’ right out of a sci-fi movie.  Using electric pulses, not chemical explosives, the ‘rail gun’ can shoot a 40-pound metal slug from New York to Philadelphia at up to 5,600 mph — more than seven times the speed of sound — with 32 times the force of a car traveling at 100 miles per hour."
Judge Matthews presided over the ‘dispositional conference’ and after learning that all 12 members of the group were planning to plead ‘not guilty’ - and that 11 of the group would defend themselves during a joint trial – the jurist adjourned the conference until 12:30 pm. 
Once Judge Matthews reconvened the court he began by asking the state prosecutor if Bath Iron Works (BIW) had been consulted about the case.  Matthews remarked, “BIW would probably like to see this all go away.”  The prosecutor said he didn’t know if anyone had reached out to BIW.
Judge Matthews then began a long series of questions to the state prosecutor that included the following:
“What is it about this case that the state wants to do a jury trial?  I don’t think a trial makes any sense but I am not the judge who would try this case.  I’d urge the [Sagadahoc County] District Attorney’s office to rethink this.  What would they achieve?  The last thing BIW wants in this case is to re-raise the issues in this case.  And this case will incur considerable time and cost to the court.”
Next Judge Matthews mentioned the first Plowshares action at BIW by Fr. Phil Berrigan and four others on Easter, March 31, 1991.  The judge told the state prosecutor, “Fr. Berrigan and his group were charged but the charges never proceeded.  He made his point and everyone went on.  Sometimes in these conferences we plant seeds that can later be worked out.”
The next step is for the District Attorney’s office to decide how they will proceed with the Zumwalt 12.  It is possible that by late November a trial date (likely in December) will be set.
In the meantime the Zumwalt 12 have decided to return to BIW for a peace vigil on Saturday, October 1 from 11:30 am for an hour during the midday shift change.  This protest will be held in conjunction with local events around the world during Keep Space for Peace Week.  Aegis destroyers, also built at BIW, are outfitted with so-called ‘missile defense’ systems that are key elements in Pentagon first-strike attack planning. 
Following the October 1 BIW vigil the Zumwalt 12 will hold a pot luck lunch at the Neighborhood Church (798 Washington St) in Bath and invite others to join us.  After the 12:30 pm lunch the Zumwalt 12 members will each offer their reasons for having taken the step to risk arrest at BIW.  This will be done in preparation for a possible trial in December.
Please come and support the Zumwalt 12 and help continue this important peace witness in Bath.
Convert BIW to peaceful purposes!
No war with China and Russia!
Fund human needs!
Stop the War$ on Mother Earth!
Bruce K. Gagnon
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502  (blog)

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