Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

More BIW protest photos

We blocked buses and cars going into the June 22 'christening' of a destroyer at Bath Iron Works from three locations.  This particular one is near the North Gate.  Buses from 'Park & Ride' spots shuttled people wanting to attend the event into the shipyard. These photos are not in much of any order but you will get the drift.  (Photos taken by Mary Donnelly, Regis Tremblay and Roger Leisner.  Click on them for a better view.)

Sam and Akemi are supportive partners of two of our folks who were arrested.  They come from farther north in Maine.

People lined up across from BIW near the North gate

In the closing circle after those arrested had been taken away by police.

A new banner made by a local artist collective

Those joining the closing circle - something that is done at each BIW protest.

The iconic crane at BIW that is no longer used for anything except to hold a tree at Christmas time.

Some of our most dedicated long-time local peaceniks.

Standing near the North Gate. Dan (left) and Dixie were both arrested.

A local mother and her son who is now a veteran of these protests.  He helps reduce our average age quite a bit. We are doing these protests so that the future generations (human, plant and animal) may have life on Mother Earth.

Folks near the North Gate blocking a bus that came off the bridge.  Instead of driving to BIW's gates on their normal routes they went way out of the way in order to escape our protest.  But we had people at all the gates and were successful in blocking several buses, vans and cars.

One of our key organizers Lisa Savage from Solon, Maine.  She is a school teacher and often speaks about how schools in our state are being defunded while the Pentagon budget grows like a cancer.  Lisa organized our news conference last Friday in Portland as well. She coordinates the group called Maine Natural Guard.

A committee of our friends (mostly from the Blue Hill peninsula) recently created a brochure that carries this graphic for statewide distribution.  We ran out of our first order and made a 2nd printing request.  Hancock artist Russell Wray designed the banner.

This is an entrance to the North Gate where several of us were arrested for blocking cars wanting to enter the parking lot.  We had just been arrested when this picture was taken.

I began the day telling about a June 20 protest at the Hancock drone base near Syracuse, New York where eight activists were arrested for blocking the air base main gate.  The base is where Air Force personnel remotely pilot missile-firing robotic Reaper drones over Afghanistan (and probably elsewhere). These classified operations result in the terrorizing, maiming and killing of uncountable numbers of unarmed and undefended innocent families.  There have regularly been many protests at this base with a huge number of arrests.  They are a real inspiration to us in Maine.

More of those in the closing circle after those arrested had been taken to the county courthouse for processing.

Artists Rob Shetterly and Natasha Mayers helping to block the back of the bus near the North Gate.

A group near the North Gate.

Local environmental activist who has long been working on climate change.

Mark Roman (left) getting cuffed near the North Gate.

Jason Rawn & Rosie Paul singing near the North Gate.  Rosie keep folks talking and singing throughout the action.

Sadie from California sharing some words of solidarity.

George & Maureen Kehoe Ostenson (Smilin' Trees Disarmament Farm in Hope, Maine) have been organizing protests at BIW longer than anyone else I know.  All during Lent and Advent and at other times of year they gather us to bear witness to the U.S.'s misplaced priorities.

Russell with the banner in front of a bus early on at the South Gate

Ken (from North Carolina) and Mary Beth having helped block a bus at the South Gate.

Russell and Connie at the South Gate before a bus arrived.  They both were arrested for helping to stop a bus.

On the way to jail on Saturday

Some of us taken from the courthouse in Bath to the jail on Saturday are in this video above.

When we arrived at the jail everyone (inmates and staff) knew we were coming.  The word spread quickly throughout the jail.  Then on Sunday the Portland Press Herald ran an article about the protest and arrests and the inmates were passing the newspaper around.  We got major league support from the men inside our jail 'pod'.  When we were released yesterday we heard lots of 'thank you' and 'keep doing it' from the inmates.

Five of us in jail were men and four women. The women reported the same story from their 'pod'.  Big time support.

While MB and I were waiting at the county courthouse in Bath on Saturday to be taken to the jail we were talking to one cop about why we protest - climate change - cost of warships, etc.  The officer asked me what our number was for the cost of the Zumwalt 'stealth' destroyer.  I told him $7 billion.  He said, "I know alot of people around here and they tell me the cost really is $13 billion."  He also told us that he recently had discovered what 'plutocracy' (a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income) meant.  He looked up the meaning and told us, "That is what we have today!"

It is more than clear to me that when we do these protests, get arrested and go to jail, we widen and deepen the consciousness and support among the public.  That cannot be underestimated.

After we were released from the Two Bridges jail yesterday one of the guards came out and thanked me for my service in the military.  (I had on my VFP sweatshirt.)  I told him that we vets are not so proud of our time in the military but are actually more proud of our current work for peace and environmental sustainability.  We had a long talk and as he was going back into the jail he shook my hand and thanked me again.

I've always believed the best way to change people's thinking and hearts is through personal experience.  Whether it is going on a trip to a foreign land and seeing for ourselves what is really happening, or taking the issue to people at a place like a jail and courtroom, this personal witness does more to help make changes than most anything else.

This morning we found these two photos posted on Fazebook from our dear friends on Jeju Island, South Korea.  For more than 10 years they have been protesting a Navy base forced upon their 500 year old fishing and farming village by the US.  Warships built in Bath, Maine are sent there to help encircle Russia and China with so-called 'missile defense' interceptor missiles.  Their village has now become a target.

Three of us arrested in Bath on Saturday were also arrested in Gangjeong village on Jeju Island in 2012 when the leaders of the village invited the Global Network to hold our annual conference there.  Mary Beth Sullivan, Natasha Mayers and myself from Maine were arrested (along with other GN members) when we crawled under the razor wire along their sacred rocky coastline where they worshiped their relatives who had passed away over the past 500 years.  This rocky coastline was blasted and covered in cement for the piers of the Navy base.

We've been connected to these good folks on Jeju Island ever since and have returned there when possible to stand with them.  People from Jeju have also come here to join our protests in Bath several times as well.  That is what solidarity looks like. (Gangjeong village is famous for their excellent citrus.)

It's been an amazing last couple of days.  It feels like our message of conversion of the military industrial complex to deal with climate catastrophe is cracking into the mainstream consciousness.

Let's keep working and staying strong.  Support one another and keep connecting these dots. Persistence pays off. Thanks to all who helped us take this message to Bath Iron Works this past weekend.

To see the latest coverage in our local paper click here


Monday, June 24, 2019

Just out of jail

Nine who refused to pay the $60 bail bond after the arrest of 22 of us at Bath Iron Works on Saturday were released from the Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, Maine today around 4:00 pm.

I'll write more tomorrow as right now I need a shower and some rest.  The group of 22 were incredible folks. Those who went to jail were wonderful to be with, and when we came out today a group of supporters met us outside the jail house doors with food, drink and loving hugs.

In the meantime you can read some coverage of our protest in Maine media here.  Additional story here.

More later.

Photo above by Lisa Savage and video below by Martha Spiess

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Latest guest on This Issue

Bruce Gagnon and Rev. Bill Bliss discuss their recent Global Network study tour to Russia. Bill studied Russian in high school and has a life-long interest in the country.

Bill was the first guest on This Issue when the public access show began in 2003.  This edition of the show was the 150th during the 16 years it has been on TV across the state - now airing in 17 communities in Maine.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Protest Saturday morning at 8:00 am at BIW

Join us at Bath Iron Works shipyard on Saturday morning at 8:00 am for the protest to oppose another 'christening' of am offensive destroyer.  We meet in Washington St across from the post office in Bath.

Our call?  Convert BIW to peaceful and useful production.

We held a news conference in Portland this morning at 11:00 am.  See more on that here

Weekly space issues radio interview - Grossman & Gagnon

 Listen to "Saying NO to the militarization of space" on Spreaker.

A regular Thursday segment deals with the ongoing militarization of space. As the US continues to withdraw from international arms treaties, will the weaponization and militarization of space bring the world closer to catastrophe?

Brian and John speak with Prof. Karl Grossman, a full professor of journalism at the State University of New York, College at Old Westbury and the host of a nationally aired television program focused on environmental, energy, and space issues, and with Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space.

RAND Corporation study to break Russia up

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss a recent RAND Corporation research paper which delivers a detailed road map as to how the United States can destabilize Russia, and systematically destroy the Russian Federation by employing economic, social-ideological, geopolitical and military tactics.

You can find the RAND corp. study here

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Boycott America!

Don't buy our cola
our chips
and our not so good chocolate

Don't use our banks
or watch our violent
TV shows or movies

Don't travel
to the U.S.
there are much
and more peaceful places
to visit
around the world

Don't believe
the arrogance
from Washington

Don't buy our weapons
and don't buy
our bullshit

The time has come
for the people
of the world
to put America
in its place

America is not
it's not great
it is a global bully
a collapsing empire
a childish brat
who must be sent
into the timeout
before it blows
up the world

Don't buy it

Boycott America!


Is Iran the next war?

Is the US government preparing to lie its way into another war?

Pentagon Drone shot down over Iran - Washington denies it was over Iranian territory.  Should we believe the Pentagon and the CIA?  What comes next?

Secretary of Insanity Mike Pompeo has admitted to “lying, cheating and stealing” as CIA director.

RT's Rick Sanchez reminds us that as citizens, it’s our responsibility to be aware of what’s going on in our government and to hold officials to account.

In other words we all need to act to prevent the next war which will result in:

  • Countless deaths
  • More refugees
  • Massive environmental destruction
  • Wasted hundreds of billions of $$$$$$$
  • Further loss of what little democracy we have left
  • Likely expanded war that draws in Russia and even China

What you can do now:

1) Phone Congress 202-224-3121. Phone your House member and your US Senator. Say No war with Iran! That is the most important message. Tell them H.R.2354 is in the House of Representatives and S.1039 is in the Senate. Both bills would prohibit the United States from using any federal funds to engage in military action in Iran without congressional approval or a declaration of war

2) Phone the White House 202-456-1414 (Switchboard) 202-456-1111 (Comments). Say No war with Iran! There is evidence some in the Administration are more cautious about an all-out war with Iran. They must hear that millions of us are unalterably opposed to an insane war.

3) Write Letters to the Editor. Express your opposition to War with Iran.

4) Hold Vigils and organize Rallies in your area and your cities against War with Iran.

5) Take photos of yourself holding “No War with Iran!” signs. Post them on Twitter and Instagram. Send them to your House Representative and Senator. Encourage others to do the same.

6) Send a message directly to Congress via this petition site here