3 pro-Palestinian protestors charged after incident at Israeli-owned Merrimack company

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Pro-Palestinian protesters allegedly trespassed Monday at a Merrimack business. Three people were arrested. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MERRIMACK, NH – Three people who police described “protestors voicing support for Palestine” were arrested Monday after a disturbance at a defense manufacturing company whose parent company is based in Israel.

On Nov. 20, 2023, at approximately 7:54 a.m., Merrimack Police Department received calls from employees at Elbit System, located at 220 Daniel Webster Highway, reporting protestors blocking the driveway and multiple people believed to be on the roof. The Merrimack Fire Department was dispatched as well due to a report of smoke coming from the roof.

Upon arrival, officers encountered a number of protestors blocking the driveway voicing support for Palestine. They eventually vacated the roadway and allowed responding officers to access the property.

Upon meeting with security personnel, 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. Officers also confirmed that at least 3 people accessed the roof.

A group of officers assembled and were able to access the roof.  Three people were located and arrested without incident. They were identified as Sophie Marika Ross of Housatonic, Mass., Cala Mairead Walsh of Cambridge, Mass., and Bridget Irene Shergalis of Dayville, CT.

Evidence from the scene suggests that the smoke was caused by an incendiary device similar to ones later located on one of the suspects. While clearing the roof, officers noted additional damage which consisted of more spray painting, smashed skylights, and damage to HVAC equipment.

Ross, Walsh and Shergalis were all charged with riot, sabotage, criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct. They were all held on preventative detention and will be arraigned in the Hillsborough County Superior Court (South) on November 21, 2023 at 1 p.m.

Elbit America, an international defense electronics company whose parent company is located in Haifa, Israel, issued the following statement in response to Monday morning’s arrests:

Elbit America employs thousands of Americans who are dedicated to the mission of creating innovative solutions that protect and save lives. We support the rights of protesters to peacefully express their views. However, what we experienced today was violent criminal behavior as evidenced by the arrests made by local law enforcement. We take the safety and well-being of our employees extremely seriously, and we will continue to work closely with local officials to ensure safety for all. 

More than 650 employees work at Elbit America’s Merrimack site providing a variety of defense, commercial aviation, sustainment & support, and medical instrumentation solutions in large part to American customers from the U.S. government to local health providers.

Shortly after the arrests, a group called Palestinian Action US via the social media platform X posted the following statement and photo of someone standing on the roof of Elbin U.S. holding what appear to be flares above the company’s rooftop logo, which has red paint splattered on it.

“As millions in Gaza stand to spend the week under tarps w out food, water, medical care, 3 Actionists are accused of taking practical steps to remediate their suffering. They should not be locked up for this; they should be celebrated. As of now, our 3 comrades have been handed a slew of trumped-up charges, & are being held on preventative detention without bail or a hearing. Even with the phony charges, there is no precedent for this in the “Free State of New Hampshire.” This is political targeting.”

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Image via Palestine Action US on X

A similar incident was reported on Oct. 31, 2023, when Palestinian Action claimed responsibility for shutting down operations at Elbit Systems’ Boston headquarters. 

As reported by the Independent, some 200 protestors gathered outside the office chanting “Elbit Systems has got to go.” They also reported that some protestors were overheard telling police officers, “You’re defending genocide of children,” and calling them “f***ing pigs” as police shouted to the protestors to “get back.”

As news circulated around the state, statements were issued denouncing the Merrimack protest.

Gov. Chris Sununu released this statement at about 4 p.m.

“The antisemitism, hate, and significant damage protesters brought to Elbit America’s campus this morning has no place in our state and will not be tolerated,” said Governor Chris Sununu.  “I am confident law enforcement will work to bring those responsible for this vile act of hate to swift justice. The people of New Hampshire stand with Israel and with Elbit Systems of America.”

Also weighing in was NH Senate President Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), who released the following statement on behalf of the NH Senate supporting Elbit Systems in Merrimack:

“I am appalled that the Elbit Systems Merrimack facility was significantly vandalized today. Elbit Systems is an Israeli-owned company that employs over 600 hundred workers in the Granite State and helps produce equipment for our Aerospace and Defense sectors. New Hampshire’s location in Merrimack, as well as others across the country, have been hit with protests and vandalism since October 12th.

   Free speech does not support threats or vandalism and I hope that the perpetrators are vigorously prosecuted for these crimes. We have seen a steady rise in anti-Semitism, and we continue to condemn this behavior.

   The Senate stands with Israel and supports this Israeli business that provides countless economic opportunities for Granite Staters.”

Merrimack Police say this incident remains under investigation and that they are being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and is working toward identifying any and all coconspirators. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Merrimack Police Department at (603) 424-3774, or to report anonymously, through Merrimack Crimeline at (603) 424-2424.


 

About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!