Shipyard Protest - Unity of Message
It was a good day yesterday in Bath at our protest at the Navy shipyard 'christening' of another Aegis destroyer. These warships have nothing to do with defense - they fire offensive first-strike attack cruise missiles, the interceptor missiles on-board have shown they can function as Anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons since one was used to once knock a malfunctioning US military satellite out of the sky. These same interceptors have been developed to serve as the 'shield' after the Pentagon's first-strike attack is launched against Russia or China.
We had about 75 folks join us from throughout the state. We were very proud of the crew of folks who hung the long banner on the Bath bridge facing the shipyard on the Kennebec River.
The green message was dominant yesterday - virtually every one of our speakers during the three-hour rally talked about the links between climate change and militarism and the urgent need to convert weapons production facilities like BIW to build rail, wind, solar, and tidal power systems. It is clear that this unified message has now become dominant across the state when it comes to the shipyard.
Ironically, the man who filmed all the video yesterday of our speakers at the rally was recently retired shipyard worker Peter Woodruff. He is the one who passed around bumberstickers that proclaimed "Save BIW! Build Wind Turbines" at the shipyard and reported that workers pasted them on fork-lifts and their tool boxes. That indicates a rare unity of purpose and message between many workers inside the production facility and the peace movement on the outside. We should honor that success.
For the past couple of years several of us throughout the state have been working hard to bring this message, linking climate change and the Pentagon's #1 sized carbon boot print, into the larger discussion being organized by the environmental movement. Yesterday revealed that this message expansion is indeed working as key leaders from the climate change movement spoke. One of those speakers was Dr. Jill Stein who is running for the Green Party nomination for president. She is indeed an important voice connecting all the dots which you can see in the set of videos just below.
Many of the folks who joined our recent Maine Peace Walk were at the BIW rally and our deep connection to one another was surely felt when we saw each other. In our very large closing circle we held hands and the feeling of common purpose and serious commitment was strong.
Our next visits to BIW will come each Saturday during the Advent season. Beginning on November 28 we will gather at 11:30 am for an hour to be a witness for change as the workers knock off at the noon whistle. We will carry our signs supporting rail and wind systems as a reminder that we are not opposing the workers but instead offer our support to build political momentum so that an alternative production system can be established at the shipyard.
In the Portland Press Herald newspaper this morning there is a long article about the growing struggle between the unions at BIW and the General Dynamics corporation. Because of the deep fiscal crisis in the US the Navy shipbuilding budget is unsustainable. The first approach being undertaken is to squeeze the unions - and many believe the ultimate goal will be to get rid of the unions so that costs can be cut by General Dynamics without impacting corporate profits. But long-term many of these massively expensive warships will have to be cut which means jobs at shipyards like BIW will be in jeopardy.
Thoughtful community leadership should be planning for this coming day of reckoning by building consciousness and political support for transitioning BIW to sustainable production that helps us deal with climate change. Anything else is just missing the boat.