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: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

PROTEST AT BATH IRON WORKS

Something is happening in Bath that I don't understand. Ever since Mary Beth and I moved to Maine we've attended every "christening" of an Aegis destroyer at Bath Iron Works (BIW). The first time I was ever there the chief of police approached me and introduced himself and sort of welcomed me - in a warm and polite manner. I always like to stand in the same spot, on the side of the street closest to the Iron Works gate that people attending the event use to enter. I never had any trouble being there.

But a new police chief has taken over. The last two times I came to a BIW protest and went to my usual spot I was immediately approached by an officer of the law who got in my face like a boot camp drill instructor telling me I have to move across the street to the "designated" protest area. Each time I've tried to explain that this is public right-a-way and that I know I have the legal right to be here. I tell them I am not looking to get arrested but that if they want to take me to trial then we can let the courts decide my fate. Last time, and again today, after about 15-20 minutes of this game the police backed off.

My friend Mary Donnelly and her husband Mike, who live on Peaks Island, immediately came and joined me as the policeman got into my face. A woman cop then proceeded to launch into Mary as you can see in the photo above. We considered it bullying and I told the woman cop that very thing after she decided to stand right in front of my sign after the Lt. in charge of their police detail eventually called the charade off. After a minute or so the Lt. told the woman cop to move away from my sign as well.

The rest of the day was fairly "uneventful" as we held our signs, sang songs, and heard speeches from many of the folks assembled using the portable sound system supplied by Maine Veterans for Peace that was the lead organizing group for the day.

I don't know if the new police chief has anything to do with the fact that the last two vigils have been the time when the police department came right at us. Maybe there is no relationship there. Maybe it is just a coincidence. But I want to find out.

On Monday I intend to call and seek an appointment with the Bath Police Department Chief of Police. I've asked Jack Bussell, from Veterans for Peace, to come along. And former State Representative Maria Holt, who was in the state house for many years representing the people of Bath, asked me if she could come along. Maria attends all of these "christening" demonstrations and was there again today. It will be good to have her with us to meet the Chief of Police.

During my speech at the demo I spoke about the military role of the Aegis destroyer. I shared a message from activists protesting at the Port of Nagoya, Japan today as a U.S. Aegis destroyer was "visiting" there.

I also shared a message from national media activist David Barsamian that said, "It was an Aegis destroyer USS Vincennes which shot down the Iranian civilian jetliner on July 31, 1988 killing all 290 passengers. The Captain of the Vincennes was later given a medal. The plane was flying in international airspace and posed no danger whatsoever to the U.S. ship which was on 'routine' maneuvers in the Persian Gulf."

The sign I was holding today said - Our Tax $$ for Peaceful Production.

We need to convert the military industrial complex. Build rail not destroyers.

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