New Hampshire

3 arrested following pro-Palestine protest at Elbit Systems in NH

Spraypainting, smashed windows and skylights and damage to HVAC equipment were among the acts of vandalism discovered by police

Facebook/Merrimack NH Police

Three people are facing charges following a pro-Palestine protest at Elbit Systems in Merrimack, New Hampshire, according to police.

Merrimack police said they received calls from employees at Elbit Systems, a defense contractor located at 220 Daniel Webster Highway, shortly before 8 a.m. saying that protestors were blocking the driveway and multiple people were believed to be on the roof of the building. Protesters have previously targeted Elbit Systems locations in Massachusetts and around the globe, alleging that the company is involved in Israel's military campaign.

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Elbit's parent company — based in Haifa, Israel — describes itself as "an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs." The U.S. subsidiary, Elbit Systems of America, works in defense, homeland security. commercial aviation, medical instruments and more, according to its website.

The Merrimack Fire Department was also called to the scene due to a report of smoke coming from the roof.

When they arrived at the scene, police said they encountered a number of protestors "blocking the driveway voicing support for Palestine." Those protestors eventually moved out of the way and allowed police to access the property.

Officers said they met with security personnel and found that the front of the building had been spraypainted with red paint, windows had been smashed, and at least one fo the main lobby doors had been locked shut with a bicycle lock.

Three people were also reportedly on the roof. Police were able to access the roof and arrested the three people who were on top of the building without incident.

They were identified by police as Sophie Marika Ross, 22, of Housatonic, Massachusetts; Calla Mairead Walsh, 19, of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and Bridget Irene Shergalis, 27, of Dayville, Connecticut. They were each charged with riot, sabotage, criminal mischief, criminal trespass and disorderly conduct and are scheduled to be arraigned in Hillsborough County Superiot Court at 1 p.m. Tuesday.

A preliminary investigation determined that the smoke that was coming from the building's roof was caused by an incendiary device similar to ones later located on one of the suspects. While clearing the roof, officers noted additional damage consisting of more spraypainting, smashed skylights and damage to HVAC equipment.

Elbit America released a statement Monday:

"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."

Gov. Chris Sununu issued a statement Monday condemning the vandalism.

"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,” he said.  “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.”

The incident remains under investigation by Merrimack police and the FBI. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call 603-424-3774. Anonymous tips can also be left on the Merrimack Crimeline at 603-424-2424.

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