Two months after pro-Palestinian vandals attacked an Israeli-owned business in Merrimack, a fourth suspect has been arrested on felony charges.
Paige Belanger, 32, of Alford, Mass., is charged by Merrimack police with riot, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and destroying ETC real/personal property. Three other defendants, all from out of state, were charged with similar crimes immediately after the incident.
The attack, which the defendants described as a protest, targeted a facility owned by Elbit Systems of America. Its parent company – Israel-based Elbit Systems – is the largest defense contractor for Israel.
The U.S. branch of Palestine Action organized the assault on the Merrimack facility, an antisemitic activist group based in the U.K. Palestine Action US says its mission is “dismantling Elbit Systems and the Zionist War Machine.”
Earlier this month, six members of Palestine Action were arrested by British authorities over a plot targeting the London Stock Exchange.
Like the other defendants, Belanger was held on preventative detention overnight. She is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 1 in Merrimack. She’s ordered not to have any contact with her co-defendants: Sophie Marika Ross, 22, of Housatonic, Mass., Cala Mairead Walsh, 19, of Cambridge, Mass., and Bridget Irene Shergalis, 27, of Dayville, Conn.
Merrimack police were called to the Elbit facility on November 20 around 8 a.m. for reports of people blocking the entrance and smoke coming from the roof. According to a Merrimack Police Department press release, “Officers discovered the front of the building had been spray painted with red paint, windows had been smashed, and at least one of the main lobby doors had been locked shut via a bicycle anti-theft device.”
The three women reportedly lit “incendiary devices” and took them to the roof, where more damage was found.
One of the women on the roof, Walsh, celebrated the damage done by Palestine Action protests during a recent interview.
“Every time we shut down a factory, even for a few hours, it costs Elbit time, money, and resources. Even if we’re a few people throwing paint at a building, the top executives of Elbit are freaking out when that happens,” Walsh said.
“This moment demands so much more,” Walsh added. “We’re not just going to be politely asking our senators and representatives to stop sending weapons to Israel. We are going to put our bodies on the line and say, ‘We are stopping these weapons from going to Israel, and we dare you to stop us.'”
Belanger has participated in previous protests targeting Israel, including one at a General Dynamics facility in Pittsfield, Mass. She’s also a member of the Berkshire Communists organization, founded by infamous millionaire-activist Fergie Chambers.