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BATH, Maine — Twenty-five people arrested April 27 while protesting outside Bath Iron Works will not be prosecuted, Sagadahoc County District Attorney Natasha Irving said.
The protesters, including members of Maine Veterans for Peace, Peace Action Maine and other organizations, were arrested after allegedly blocking traffic during a christening ceremony for the future USS Lyndon B. Johnson.
Police said at the time that the protesters stepped into the roadway and blocked traffic, with some standing on both ends of a bus carrying people to the ceremony, effectively blocking the bus from moving. Other protesters were arrested after lying down in adjacent streets.
They said at the time that their act of civil resistance was to protest the destroyer’s christening and demand that Bath Iron Works convert its mission to working to halt climate change.
Bath police officers, Sagadahoc County sheriff’s deputies and Maine state troopers charged the protesters with the Class E misdemeanor of obstructing a public way.
In a release Thursday, Irving wrote that after reviewing reports, videos and photographic evidence, her office would not prosecute those arrested.
“We commend the Bath Police and State Police officers who were professional and courteous with those individuals who were arrested and who properly exercised their discretion to make arrests,” she wrote. “We believe the officers had probable cause to make these arrests and to subsequently charge all of those who were involved with obstructing a public way. However, prosecuting these matters in court would necessitate a significant designation of resources and time on the part of office staff and the court, and give more undue publicity to those 25 individuals.”
Irving said she made the decision despite believing her office could prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt but would instead focus on “more serious criminal matters, consistent with our obligation to seek justice and the protection of public safety.”
Many of the protesters had previously been arrested at past Bath Iron Works events. In 2017, 10 protesters were found guilty of the same misdemeanor charge following a 2016 protest and were sentenced to 30 hours of community service.