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

With a new administration in Washington it will be a challenge to get the 'liberals' to hold Biden-Harris to the few 'progressive promises' they made during their campaign. Biden is bringing back many of Bush & Obama's neo-cons to head his foreign policy. I'll be on this case without hesitation.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Jaywalkers for conversion of BIW


Originally we called ourselves the Inouye 22 (the new Aegis destroyer, outfitted with 'missile offense' systems, is named after former US Senator Daniel Inouye from Hawaii).  Now we should call our group the Jaywalker 22.

On June 22 there was another 'christening' at Bath Iron Works shipyard here in Maine of the destroyer the USS Inouye.  On that day 22 were arrested for blocking several streets into the shipyard holding up buses, vans and cars filled with people going to the ceremony.  We were charged with 'Obstructing a public way'.  Those charges would allow us to have a jury trial where we could make the case that the coming climate catastrophe is forcing us to immediately make a transition from fossil fuel burning warships to building things like commuter rail, offshore wind turbines and tidal power systems in order to give the future generations some hope for survival on Mother Earth.  Scientists are now saying we have 11 years to make this change or face the worst.  Hello, anyone listening?!!!

After our arrests we were told we had to pay $60 bail commissioner fee before we could be released.  Nine of us refused to pay the $60 and were sent to country jail for 2 1/2 days.  Then we heard that the District Attorney (DA) was changing the charges to the equivalent of jaywalking which would not allow us to have a jury trial.  Instead a fine of $152 was levied with the penalty of losing our drivers license if we don't pay it.

We can contest the fine and have a 'bench trial' before a judge that we are told we'd likely lose.

Today those nine of us who had gone to jail following our June 22 arrests at BIW had what is called a Disposition hearing at the West Bath courthouse.  There we were told we could pay the fine or contest it.  Several of us made short statements to the judge in front of a full court room.

I told the judge that we'd already spent 2 1/2 days in jail for now what is a jaywalking charge.  But the best amongst us was Dixie Searway.

Dixie told the judge, “I am 81 years old and we’ve been at war my whole life.  The Nuremberg Principles say I must stand against these warships.  You are forcing me next time to step onto BIW property to ensure I can have a trial by jury.” 

(Stepping onto BIW property would mean we'd be charged with Trespassing which allows for a jury trial.)

As we were leaving the courtroom many in the pews gave us great reactions and the judge likely noticed.  One woman followed us out the door, high-fived Mary Beth and gave her a big hug.

So the saga continues as we learn that BIW now has contracts to build 11 more destroyers (laden with missile systems) that are being used to encircle China and Russia.  Hundreds of billions of dollars are being pissed down the rat hole while hurricanes get larger, Arctic ice melts at alarming rates, the seas heat up as lobsters head north, waters rise and islands in the Pacific begin to disappear into the ocean.

Now is the time to act and the judicial system in Maine tinkers around the edges trying to punish and discourage peaceful protest which is supposedly protected by the Constitution.

We won't give up.  I'll stand with Dixie next time at a BIW 'christening' and likely others will as well.

Bruce

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