BATH IRON WORKS WARSHIP LAUNCH TO HEAR, "LBJ, LBJ, HOW MANY KIDS DID YOU KILL TODAY?"
Statewide peace groups will gather to protest the "christening"[sic] of a Zumwalt class warship at General Dynamics' Bath Iron Works (BIW) shipyard on the morning of Saturday, April 27. The ship will be named for President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was driven from office by anti-war protesters over his bombing of civilians during the Vietnam War.
Naming the warship after LBJ supports the Pentagon's attempt at revisionist history around America's most unpopular war. Veterans for Peace (VFP), which was founded in Maine by Vietnam War veterans, maintains a website called Vietnam Full Disclosure to counter the Pentagon's efforts to whitewash that war. Several VFP members from around the U.S. are expected at the April 27 protest.
Bruce Gagnon of Brunswick, a member of VFP who became an activist while in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, said, "Our real security needs as a nation are to urgently address climate change and plan for sea level rise that is already underway. How will this affect BIW's shipyard in Bath? Continuing to build expensive, provocative and polluting weapon systems like Zumwalt destroyers ignores climate change as the biggest threat to our collective safety." Gagnon has helped organize protests at BIW for the past several years. In 2018 he fasted for 37 days to oppose a tax giveaway by the state of Maine to General Dynamics.
"Making warships at BIW is not even a good jobs policy. Researchers have consistently found that investment of the same resources in sustainable energy solutions like commuter rail or wind turbines would produce many more jobs," said Mary Beth Sullivan of PeaceWorks of greater Brunswick. "We need conversion of the BIW shipyard now." Sullivan referenced the UMass Amherst study in 2011, "The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities: 2011 Update" by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier
Another PeaceWorks member has spent the past year gathering names of people willing to engage in civil resistance on April 27. Karen Wainberg of Brunswick says she had more than 50 names on her list at this time.
Mark Roman of Solon plans to be there representing the Maine Natural Guard, an organization dedicated to pointing out the Pentagon's enormous carbon footprint. "I cannot stand by and watch lawmakers waste our tax dollars on warships that are huge polluters when that money could be spent on climate change solutions, or on housing and food for the 43,000 children in Maine living in poverty," he said. Roman has been active in the Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign at BIW since 2009.
Organizations sponsoring the April 27 protests and resistance include Americans Who Tell the Truth, Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), Durham Quaker Meeting, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Island Peace & Justice, Maine Natural Guard, Maine Veterans for Peace, Midcoast Peace & Justice Group, Pax Christi Maine, Peace Action Maine, Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine, Peace & Justice Group of Waldo County, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, and Peninsula Peace & Justice.