Sunday, March 12, 2023

Revisiting the Aegis Plowshares action at the Bath Iron Works March 31, 1991


  I am continuing the saga of Philip Berrigan.  In this disarmament action, Phil was a member of the AEGIS PLOWSHARES.

  Before dawn on Easter, March 31, 1991, Phil Berrigan, from Jonah House and participant in two previous Plowshares actions; Kathy Boylan, member of the Thames River Plowshares and the Gulf Peace Team, from Long Island, NY; Tom Lewis, participant in the Transfiguration Plowshares East action from Worcester, MA; Barry Roth, psychiatrist and peace worker from Worcester, MA; and Daniel Sicken, an Air Force veteran and war-tax resister from Brattleboro, VT, boarded the USS Gettysburg, an Aegis-equipped Cruiser docked at the Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME. (According to the Navy, Aegis is "the most capable surface launched missile system the Navy has ever put to sea.") They proceeded to hammer and pour blood on covers for vertical launching systems for cruise missiles. They also left at the site their action statement which said in part, "We witness against the American enslavement to war at the Bath Iron Works, geographically near the President’s home." They also left an indictment charging President Bush, Secretary of War Cheney, the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff with war crimes and violations of God’s law and international law, including the killing of thousands of Iraqis. They spent nearly two hours on the ship and in the yard before turning themselves into a member of the security force. After rejecting unsecured bond in court on April 1st, all five were released unconditionally on April 3rd pending trial by the state of Maine on charges of criminal trespass.

  Greg Boertje-Obed and I videotaped the action. After they were released from prison, I returned to Baltimore.

 There were many protests against the Persian Gulf War, including one at the United Nations in New York City.  I was in New York City and wrote up and sent out a press release from Ramsey Clark’s office about the UN action, and then Elmer Maas and I drove to Bath, Maine for the trial of the Aegis Plowshares.  We arrived late at night, and Kathy Boylan, a member of the Aegis Plowshares, came running to our vehicle and told us that the charges were dismissed.  Without explanation, the state decided against prosecuting them and their charges were dismissed one day before their scheduled jury trial. Kagiso, Max


MARCH 31, 1991

Protestors board missile cruiser under construction

BATH, Maine -- Five members of an anti-nuclear weapons group boarded a guided missile cruiser under construction Sunday at the Bath Iron Works Sunday but police said they were arrested before they could implement their protest.

A spokesman for Atlantic Life Community, Max Obuszewski, said community members boarded the USS Gettysburg shortly before 6 a.m. and hammered on vertical missile launchers in an attempt to pry them open and pour blood down the launch tubes.

But Police Cpl. Joel Merry said there was no damage to the ship, no blood dumped and that none of the five was carrying hammers or blood when arrested.

Merry said the five were charged with criminal trespass and will be arraigned Monday.

Obuszewski said the group has photographs and videotape shot from a nearby bridge that will show the five pounding on covers and hanging banners from the Aegis-class cruiser and accused the police of cover-up.

He said the five will explain in court 'what really happened aboard the boat' and said police were 'trying to lowball the incident so as to not to make martyrs of our people.'

He said the tapes also show shipyard workers removing the banners and cleaning up the ship before police photographers arrived on the scene.

The action was called an 'Aegis plowshares' demonstration, in reference to the Biblical quote about hammering swords into plowshares.

The five were identified as Philip Berrigan, of Baltimore, a former Roman Catholic priest and longtime protester; Thomas Lewis, 51, and Barry Roth, 43, of Worcester, Mass.; Daniel Sicken, 49, of Brattleboro, Vt., and Kathleen Boylan, 47, of Northport, N.Y..

The maximum penalty for the Class-E misdemeanor in Maine is a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. All five were held in lieu of $200 bail pending arraignment.


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Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



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