Judge dismisses charges against 9 Bath protesters

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BATH — A Superior Court judge on Feb. 1 dismissed charges against nine people arrested last April for alleged criminal trespassing during the christening of a new U.S. Navy destroyer at Bath Iron Works.

Justice Dan Billings ended the West Bath District Court case, expected to last two days, when the state “failed to prove to (his) satisfaction that they met the reasonable doubt standard to justify the arrests of nine ‘concerned citizens’ engaged in peaceful protest,” defendant Lisa Savage said in a Feb. 2 statement.

The Solon resident and eight others – representing Maine Veterans for Peace and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space – were protesting the launch of the USS Thomas Hudner.

The incident occurred two months after some members of the organizations were sentenced to 30 hours of community service after staging a protest in June 2016, during another BIW christening.

The shipyard at last April’s incident allowed people to enter through the “New Event Gate,” south of BIW’s South Gate. The protesters, carrying peace signs, attempted to enter but were stopped by BIW security officers. The protesters remained on the property, and were told by BIW officials after a few minutes to leave, police said at the time.

After they refused, Bath Police Lt. Robert Savary warned them they risked being arrested for trespassing. They ultimately were arrested and charged at police headquarters.

Those arrested were Savage, Jason Rawn of Lincolnville, Mark Roman of Solon, Bruce Gagnon of Bath, Russell Wray of Hancock, Natasha Mayers of Whitefield, Robert Dale of Brunswick, Jessica Stewart of Bass Harbor, and Michael Tork of Falmouth, Massachusetts.

“Our vision is that BIW be converted to build commuter rail systems, offshore wind turbines, solar and tidal power systems that would help us deal with our real problem – climate change,” Gagnon said Feb. 1 in a statement.

He is among those also opposed to a proposed $60 million tax break over 20 years for BIW, which is before the Legislature.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath police arrested nine people during a protest at the christening of the USS Hudner at Bath Iron Works in April 2017. A Superior Court judge dismissed the charges Feb. 1.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.