New Hampshire’s top cop is taking control of the case against anti-Israel protesters who targeted a Merrimack worksite, a sign of how important the case is to the state of New Hampshire and Gov. Chris Sununu’s administration.
State Attorney General John Formella told NHJournal he plans to make a tough case against the four pro-Palestinian demonstrators arrested for allegedly attacking the Israeli-owned Elbit Systems facility in Merrimack.
“We took these cases because of the important civil rights and public protection interests involved,” Formella said. “We will do everything we can to ensure that these cases are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that justice is served.”
Prosecutors with the Hillsborough County Attorney’s Office originally brought the charges against the suspects after they were arrested in November at the Elbit facility on Daniel Webster Highway.
Calla Walsh, 19, Bridget Shergalis, 27, and Sophie Ross, 22, were all arrested Nov. 20 when their protest turned violent, according to police. The three were charged with criminal trespass, riot, and sabotage.
“Officers discovered the front of the building had been sprayed with red paint, windows had been smashed, and at least one main lobby door had been locked shut via a bicycle anti-theft device,” Merrimack Police said in a statement following the incident.
Protesters also lit flares and took them to the roof, where more damage was later found.
A fourth suspect, Paige Belanger, 32, of Alford, Mass., was arrested last week.
The assault on the Merrimack facility was supported by the U.S. branch of Palestine Action, an anti-Israel organization that promotes antisemitic views. Six of its members were recently arrested when U.K. authorities foiled a plot targeting the London Stock Exchange.
Formella told NHJournal in December the Palestine Action organization could also face legal consequences for its role in the attack.
“Organizations and entities can be held responsible for the acts of their members. We saw that with NSC-131. We brought an action, not just against two members of NSC-131, but against the organization itself,” Formella said.
NSC-131 is a white supremacy group that hung a “Keep New England White” banner on a Portsmouth bridge last summer.
Palestine Action US says its mission is “dismantling Elbit Systems and the Zionist War Machine.”
Multi-millionaire Communist James “Fergie” Chambers is identified as a founder of Palestinian Action USA. He has paid bail for the women charged in the case. Chambers claims he is not a leader in the group, but he does participate in protests. He frequently posts bail for activists in a range of protest movements like Palestinian Action, Stop Cop City, and others.
“I’ve never said no to a bail help ask,” Chambers previously told NHJournal via text.
Chambers did not respond to a request for comment on Formella taking over the prosecution of the Elbit case.