|Defense Attorney Logan Perkins celebrates with Aegis 9 defendants in Bath following dismissal of their charges February 1.|
AEGIS DEFENDANTS CRIMINAL TRESPASS CHARGES DISMISSED AS JUDGE FINDS 1st AMENDMENT PROHIBITS EXCLUDING PUBLIC FROM PUBLIC EVENTS SOLELY ON THE BASIS OF POLITICAL SPEECH
Bath, Maine -- The Aegis 9 trial ended abruptly today with charges dismissed after the State of Maine failed to prove to Justice Dan Billings' satisfaction that they met the reasonable doubt standard to justify the arrests of nine "concerned citizens" engaged in peaceful protest on April 1, 2017.
Defense attorney Logan Perkins of Belfast, Maine said, “ "The 1st Amendment is alive and well in the State of Maine, and I appreciate that the court was willing to hold the Bath Police Department to the standards contained in the U.S. Constitution."
Perkins represented three of the defendants and advised the remaining six. She moved to have charges dismissed for Jason Rawn on the basis that he did not have a reasonable time to comply with police orders to leave BIW property before being arrested based on video submitted as state’s evidence at the trial. Perkins moved to have charges dismissed for the other defendants based on the fact that other members of the public present in the same space were not arrested. Justice Billings granted both motions.
On April 1 the nine had gathered with about 20 other people to protest the “christening” of an Aegis destroyer ship at BIW and were arrested by Bath Police officers on the orders of General Dynamics. Justice Billings, who was appointed to the bench in 2012 by Governor Paul LePage after serving as his general counsel, commented during the trial that it appeared the Bath Police Department was outsourced to BIW and, “That is not how it is supposed to work. The city has to consider the bigger picture." He also said, "The police do not have unfettered discretion."
Three attempts by the state prosecutor to have prior convictions for protesting at General Dynamics’ BIW entered into evidence were denied by Justice Billings. He cited the issue that the state had moved to join the cases of all nine defendants when they were arraigned; it was Billings' opinion that knowing of prior convictions for some defendants might prejudice the jury against all the defendants. He instructed the jury that the defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, with the burden of proof falling on the state.
The Aegis 9:
Bob Dale – Brunswick, VFP former Navy pilot
Bruce Gagnon – Bath, Veterans For Peace (VFP) & Global Network Against Nuclear Power & Weapons in Space
Natasha Mayers – Whitefield, Artist
Jason Rawn – Lincolnville, war tax resister
Mark Roman – Solon, Woodworker
Lisa Savage – Solon, teacher
Jessica Stewart – Bass Harbor, Catholic Worker activist
Mike Tork – Cape Cod, MA, VFP former Navy Vietnam vet
Russell Wray – Hancock, Artist
Defendant and Bath resident Bruce Gagnon was previously convicted of obstructing a public way for blocking the road in front of General Dynamics’ BIW. Gagnon was sentenced to community service for that conviction.
Earlier in the week, Gagnon and defendants Mark Roman and Jason Rawn testified to the Joint Standing Committee on Taxation of the Maine legislature in opposition to LD 1781. The bill proposes to give General Dynamics’ Bath Iron Works a $60 million tax giveaway over the next twenty years.
At the public hearing Gagnon said, “We call for the end of Maine taxpayer subsidies to the General Dynamics Corporation, the 5th largest weapons contractor in the world, as owner of BIW. They’ve used past Maine subsidies -- $200 million since 1997 -- to mechanize the operation which has led to job loss. Additionally, General Dynamics has used the money to buy back their own stocks driving market value higher.” A work session on the bill is scheduled for February 6.
Defendant Roman, a member of the Maine Natural Guard, said: “I cannot stand by and watch our national treasury depleted building expensive, destructive war machines while climate change threatens the future of human life.
“My grandchildren need me to stand up and say that building weapons of mass destruction does not increase security but it does drive climate change and waste money that could be spent on education, health care and housing for the 40,000 children in Maine living in poverty today.” ##