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.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Money talks at Bath police department


Holding banner with retired career Navy warrant officer George Goodwin


Four of us from Veterans For Peace (VFP) were at the Navy compound gate at Bath Iron Works (BIW) again yesterday during the lunch hour. We've been going there twice a month since May in anticipation of the 'christening' of another destroyer (USS Carl Levin).

Last week several of us met with the new Bath police department chief at his request to discuss our protest at the upcoming ceremony. I had run into Chief Andrew Booth a while back and we had a brief discussion about the upcoming event. I asked him if he knew the date of the christening ceremony and he said he did not but promised to let us know as soon as he heard something definitive. It was then he asked for a sit-down meeting with us.

When we met with him last week he changed course and said he'd not be letting us know anything about the ceremony date until it was made public in the media.

Booth is the third Bath chief I've dealt with since moving to Maine in 2003. In the past I'd get a call from the police department when they learned of a date and we'd discuss in general terms our protests. They'd even offer to close off a side street just across from the BIW gate, where the public would enter to attend the ceremony. We'd put our sound system there and gather in the closed off street. Now they are unwilling to do that unless we apply for a permit and pay a fee.

A couple of years ago some of us went to trial in the Bath Superior Court for blocking the BIW entrance gate at a previous christening. During the course of the trial it became apparent to the presiding judge that the Bath police department was essentially an appendage of BIW - which is owned by the General Dynamics Corporation. The judge threw the case out.

It appears to me that this relationship between Bath police and BIW/GD has become even stronger under the new chief. One would assume that the police department owes loyalty to the citizenry as well as the largest employer in the city and would do their best to serve both masters. But after our meeting with Chief Booth it became clear to me that the allegiance of his department is solidly in the pocket of the mega-corporate weapons maker. 

(It should be noted that some Bath police officers retire from the force and then go to work for BIW security.)

This is very troubling and for me it means that having any honest relationship and future dialogue with the Bath police department will be increasingly problematic.

Money talks more than ever in Bath.



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