Jacqui Deveneau of Portland holds a sign calling for peace during a protest Saturday afternoon at Woodfords Corner. Gillian Graham/Staff Writer

Russell Wray of Hancock holds a vigil on a local bridge each week to display his simple sign: No War With Russia.

On Saturday, he brought the same sign to Woodfords Corner in Portland, where he joined a statewide coalition of peace groups, political parties and others calling for the United States to stop spending billions of dollars on the war in Ukraine.

“We’re basically involved in a proxy war with Russia. The risk of getting into actual war with Russia is very high, and that could escalate to nuclear war,” Wray said. “If we get into a war with Russia, that’s it. We have to do what we can to try to prevent this from happening. A war with Russia could end life on this planet.”

More than three dozen people gathered at one of the busiest intersections in Maine for the protest. Standing on each corner of the intersection, they waved to passing cars and held signs and banners that read, “Abolish NATO,” “Honk 3xs NO WAR” and “Yes to peace. No to war.”  It was part of a regular series of protests held statewide in recent months to call for peace.

Sponsors of the gathering included PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Maine Natural Guard, Communist Party of Maine, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Green Independent Party, People’s Party of Maine and Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST). The rally was held in conjunction with similar actions across the nation critical of the U.S. role in the war.

The coalition’s demands include peace in Ukraine with no more weapons or money from the U.S., the abolishment of NATO, no war with China, the protection of the environment from war, and the end of U.S. aid to Israel.


Lisa Savage, lead organizer of the event and a founding member of the Maine Natural Guard, said many people are concerned about “the tremendous amount of money flowing out to a proxy war with Russia that certainly hasn’t done Ukraine any favors.”

The U.S. has spent $120 billion to date on the war in Ukraine. The Pentagon said Wednesday that the U.S. will send Ukraine about $300 million in additional military aid – including artillery rounds, howitzers, air-to-ground rockets and ammunition – as the launch of a spring counteroffensive against Russian forces appears to be imminent.

Reaction to Saturday’s protest and previous demonstrations in Westbrook and Topsham was largely positive, Savage said.

“My target audience is the kid in the back seat who asks his parents what we’re doing,” she said. “The young person has seen dissent is possible.”

Luke Brooks-Shessler drove down from Waterville to “get the word out that it’s OK to protest for peace” and help people feel more comfortable opposing the war.

“What we’ve noticed is that with every protest, we get more honks of support,” he said. “I think there’s a growing realization that we need to get serious about peace.”


Tom Nadloski of Brunswick stood on a corner wearing a T-shirt and holding a sign with the message, “Blowing up pipelines is a war crime.”

“I don’t want war. I have a couple of nephews I’d like to see become teenagers,” he said. “I think our billions of dollars could be spent in a more productive way than killing people.”

Nearby, Pat Taub of Portland held up a sign that read “End the Ukraine war before it goes nuclear!! Peace now” as a passing driver beeped and waved. Taub has been a peace activist for nearly her entire life and said she fears the current situation could escalate to nuclear war.

“I’m terrified of having my grandchildren’s lives threatened by war,” she said.

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