BATH — The 12 people arrested last June after staging a protest outside a ship christening at Bath Iron Works were found guilty after a jury trial Feb. 1-2.
They were each sentenced to 30 hours of community service.
District Court Judge Dan Billings, after hearing the verdict at Sagadahoc County Superior Court, said leniency was justified because “the defendants believed they were acting appropriately with the greater good in mind,” and their actions were “within the tradition of civil disobedience and nonviolent protest,” according to a Feb. 3 press release from Leslie Manning, a friend of the group.
The group, which calls itself the “Zumwalt 12” after the class of destroyer christened at the shipyard, held an organized protest of the USS Monsoor christening at the corner of Washington and Spring streets. The dozen protesters then moved to Washington Street, blocking vehicular and pedestrian traffic in front of the shipyard’s South Gate, according to Bath police.
Despite police orders to leave – and a warning that they would be arrested if they did not – the protesters stayed put, police said.
Charged with obstructing a public way were Richard Lethem, 83, of Bath; Dudley Hendrick, 74, of Deer Isle; Bruce Gagnon, 63, of Bath; Russell Wray, 61, of Hancock; Tarak Kauff, 74, of Woodstock, New York; Joan Peck, 69, of Brunswick; George Ostensen, 61, of Hope; Jason Rawn, 42, of Lincolnville; Cynthia Howard, 69, of Biddeford; Constance Jenkins, 68, of Orono; John Morris, 79, of New Gloucester, and John Peck, 75, of Brunswick.
Two members opted to donate $140 to United Way instead of facing trial, due to travel and health, according to Manning.
The group cited opposition to war as one reason for the protest, along with resistance to paying war-related taxes, personal faith, military spending rates, climate change, and their membership in Veterans for Peace.
“My decision to sit down in the road was influenced by the oath I took when I joined the military,” Gagnon wrote at space4peace.blogspot.com. “I took seriously my oath to defend the constitution and our country and I now believe what I was doing on June 18 was in line with that oath.”