A Bath Iron Works vice president and a former vice president have twice been the target of protests in Yarmouth where activists have demanded that they “stop arming genocide” in Palestine.

Seven people protested on June 29 in front of the home of Christopher Waaler, a current BIW vice president. Later that same morning, protesters rallied in front of what they said is the home of Brent West, the former vice president of supply chain and quality at the shipyard. Protesters held a similar action at the two homes back in May.

These actions directed at corporate leaders appear to be a new tactic for pro-Palestinian activists in Maine. Protests condemning the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, decrying U.S. military support for Israel and demanding a cease-fire and have taken place at the offices of political leaders, the home of U.S. Senator Angus King, in the streets of Portland and Waterville, in front of a General Dynamics factory in Saco, at the Maine State House in Augusta and at Bath Iron Works.

Protests have also taken place at college campuses in Maine, though demonstrations there have been more muted there than at other universities around the country.

BIW is a subsidiary of defense contractor General Dynamics, which has provided weapons and military equipment that Israel has used in attacks on Gaza, according to the American Friends Service Committee, a peace group. Ships made at BIW deployed in the Red Sea have been involved in skirmishes as a result of the war. A BIW spokesperson did not respond to a question about the number of BIW ships that are currently deployed in the region.

Lisa Savage, one of the June 29 protesters, said she’s not aware of a protest targeting the home of a non-politician prior to their first demonstration in Yarmouth in May.


Waaler, who lives on West Elm Street, did not respond to a request for comment sent via email and was not at home when a Northern Forecaster reporter went to his house. West, who protesters believe lives on Oakwood Drive – the deed to the house is registered to a different person with the same last name – was not at that address when the Northern Forecaster went there. A spokesperson for BIW did not respond to a request for Waaler and West’s direct contact information.

The protesters arrived early on Saturday morning at Waaler’s house and stood outside for roughly 45 minutes chanting “War criminal. Wake up!” and “Christopher Waaler profits from the genocide of children in Gaza,” according to Savage.

“My target audience is the 9-year-old kid going, ‘Mom, what are those people doing?’” said Savage, who was a teacher for many years and is now retired.

“It doesn’t really matter what Mom says, whether it’s positive, negative, neutral. The question has been asked, and it’s established for the child: dissent is possible,” she said.

According to Savage, protesters poured a non-toxic red substance symbolizing blood in the street near the two homes. The protesters also had interactions with multiple neighbors near Waaler’s home, who were not supportive of the protests.

One neighbor on West Elm Street, Erik Hellstedt, told the Northern Forecaster that he witnessed both protests, though for the second protest he stayed inside his home.


He said he and other neighbors doubt that the protesters’ tactics are the best way to achieve their aims. He said neighbors were “annoyed” that the protests started so early, the most recent one on a Saturday. “There are kids in the neighborhood,” he added.

He also said he thinks political leaders are a better target for protesters’ ire.

Three other neighbors who spoke to the Northern Forecaster had negative things to say about the protest, though they declined to speak on the record.

The Yarmouth Police Department received multiple calls about the protest at Waaler’s home, according to Chief Daniel Gallant. Two officers were dispatched to the scene and stood by.

According to Savage, when the group moved on to Oakwood Drive, the police officers did not appear to follow them. “We were aware of their location,” Gallant said, when asked if they followed to the second location. Gallant also confirmed that officers responded to the first protest that took place in May.

At one point, according to Savage, someone came out of Waaler’s home and filmed the protesters. In a video taken by Savage, protesters can be heard saying “get your hands off her,” and the person can be heard telling a protester to “take your mask off.” The communications director at BIW said that the person in the video is not Christopher Waaler.


Besides confirming that West had retired from BIW, the spokesperson declined to give further comment on the incident.

Some of the activists who participated are part of the Maine Coalition for Palestine and Health Care Workers for Palestine-Maine, but those groups did not formally organize the protest, Savage said. Savage herself organizes with the Maine Coalition for Palestine.

She said she believes there is a direct link between the work of General Dynamics and loss of life in Gaza. “I have … been working for years to get U.S. taxpayers, in Maine particularly, to care that so much of our tax money goes straight to General Dynamics,” she said.

According to the subsidy tracker Good Jobs First, Maine has awarded General Dynamics or BIW over $30 million in subsidies between 2007 and 2022 in the form of tax credits, property tax abatements, training reimbursements and enterprise zones.

Israel’s campaign has killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza, which began nine months ago, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

The ongoing war was prompted by a surprise attack on Israel by Hamas – which runs Gaza – on Oct.  7, during which militants killed approximately 1,200 people and took roughly 250 hostages.

In March, amid the rising death toll in Gaza, a U.N.-appointed expert found “reasonable grounds” to believe that Israel has committed acts of genocide.

“People die as a result of that spending on weapon systems,” Savage said. “I’m willing to (protest) even if I have to appear impolite, or noisy, or inconsiderate.”

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