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District attorney declines to prosecute Bath Iron Works protesters

By DENNIS HOEY | Portland Press Herald, Maine | Published: May 10, 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (Tribune News Service) — The Sagadahoc County district attorney announced Thursday that she will not prosecute 25 people who were arrested last month during a protest outside Bath Iron Works.

Natasha Irving thanked police for their efforts, but said spending the legal resources necessary to prosecute the protesters and giving them “more undue publicity” would be counterproductive.

“It is within the discretion of the district attorney not to pursue a criminal case, even where there is probable cause of a crime, where it would not serve the interests of justice,” Irving said in a statement.

Irving said her office and the public would be better served if resources were focused on “the prosecution of more serious criminal matters, consistent with our obligation to seek justice and the protection of public safety.”

The protesters gathered outside the shipyard on the morning of April 27 during a christening ceremony for the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer USS Lyndon B. Johnson.

About 9 a.m., eight protesters blocked a bus that was trying to leave the Washington Street area. The protesters refused to move, and a few lay down in the road. They were arrested and charged with obstructing a public way. About 30 minutes later, 17 protesters blocked traffic on King Street. They were arrested and charged with obstructing a public way.

Most of the protesters belonged to Maine Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine, and the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Protesters said they want the Navy and BIW to focus on the threats posed by climate change rather than building ships that contribute to it.

The destroyer, which will be based in San Diego, is the third and final Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer to be built at BIW.

Irving, a Democrat, won election to the District 6 post last November, becoming the first woman to serve as district attorney for the district, which includes Knox, Lincoln, Waldo and Sagadahoc counties.

During her campaign, Irving emphasized the need to focus on restorative justice and criticized the incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders.

©2019 the Portland Press Herald (Portland, Maine)
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