[saymaListserv] Vermont Woman Practices Active Non-Violence

Steve Livingston nc_stereoman at charter.net
Sun Oct 17 12:15:02 JEST 2004


Dear Friends,

I came across this inspirational article last week. It reports on a 
hearing that took place on 10/7.

======================

BENNINGTON, Vt. -- Rose Marie Jackowski, the Bennington war 
protester convicted of disorderly conduct last month, said in court 
Thursday what she has always wanted to say, just before being 
sentenced to appear before a board that could instruct her to 
perform community service.

"I, and many other protesters that I know, would gladly spend the 
rest of our lives in jail, if only the United States would stop bombing 
children," she told the court.

Friends, a relative and Jackowski herself appeared in Bennington 
District Court to offer emotional testimony both on Jackowski's 
character and the 13,000-plus civilians killed so far in the Iraq war, 
the latter a point that was not shared as liberally with the jury last 
month.

But most surprising was an address by Jackowski's lawyer, Stephen 
Saltonstall, in which he told of her hard existence, including rape, a 
husband who abandoned her, poverty and harrowing court 
experiences related to all of the above.

Judge David Suntag sentenced Jackowski to a short, suspended jail 
sentence and probation. He also directed her to appear before a 
reparative board of community members, which could instruct her 
to perform community service or write a letter of apology, among 
other things.

"I encourage you to at least sit down with these people and talk to 
them," Suntag said. "They deserve that and so do you."

Jackowski was sentenced on a conviction stemming from a March 
20, 2003 protest. She and 11 others were arrested for blocking 
traffic while protesting the Iraq war in the center of Bennington.

Because Jackowski's crime so directly affected the town of 
Bennington, Suntag said appearing before the board would be an 
appropriate punishment.

"In this instance, the community itself was offended to some 
degree," he said.

But Jackowski, whose sentence will not be executed until an appeal 
is carried out, expressed doubt that she would actually appear 
before the reparative board. Her conscience, she said, precludes 
her from it.

"It's kind of a little subtle way of humiliation," she said after the 
sentencing.

"Personally, I find the word 'reparative' very insulting," she told 
Suntag.

There is a strong difference between the court making her do 
something and telling her to do something, she said, noting that she 
would have accepted a jail sentence.

In fact, Saltonstall asked Suntag to impose just that - time served 
for being detained on the day of her protest, and if not, a few days 
in jail. Deputy State's Attorney Daniel McManus suggested 200 
hours of community service.

Jackowski, who said she helps the community on her own time, said 
it would be against her conscience to serve at the direction of the 
court.

She spent most of her time in court talking not about herself, but 
about children killed in U.S. bombing campaigns on Iraq. It is an 
issue she has made efforts to push to the forefront of her legal 
battle, often unsuccessfully.

Calling members of the Bush administration war criminals and 
holding a photo of the president, Jackowski reiterated that her 
conscience was the one thing she would not compromise.

She spoke strongly and loudly throughout, not once wavering or 
losing her train of thought.

"I pray for the day when factory workers join with farmers and police 
officers join with poets and judges join with veterans in protesting 
the illegal acts of our government," she said. "Now is a time in 
history when silence is the greatest of all crimes."

Suntag listened, at times smiling, but said afterwards that the 
course of international events would not affect Jackowski's fate.

"I am not foolish enough to try to engage in a debate with you," he 
told her before reading her sentence. What was at issue in court, he 
said, was the law, not the war in Iraq.

McManus called the sentence "totally" appropriate.

"She's not a bad woman. She wanted to make a message, but she 
chose the wrong way to do it," he said, noting that he, also, does not 
support the war.

Two combat veterans now involved with the group Veterans for 
Peace testified that Jackowski, who served in the U.S. Air Force in 
the 1950s, was a patriot, standing up for her beliefs in the face of 
the law.

"We know that serving our country demands more than saluting the 
flag," said Elliot Adams, a paratrooper who served in Vietnam and 
Korea. "It demands a hard look."

"I ask that you recognize that my friend and fellow veteran acted, 
unlike most of us would, as a true patriot."

When not testifying, Adams sat with his face pointed toward the 
floor, resting his forehead on his hands, struggling with the 
proceedings before him.

Told later that her sentence would be on hold pending appeal, 
Jackowski smiled, telling Saltonstall "I love you." Supporters, about 
a dozen of whom attended the trial, broke into applause. Saltonstall 
represented Jackowski pro bono, meaning he did the work for free.

The two lawyers came into conflict while making their sentencing 
requests to Suntag. Jackowski, McManus said, used her trial as a 
launching board for media coverage. He mentioned white 
supremacists as a group who also, under fairness of the law, should 
be tried not on what they believe, but on what they do.

Saltonstall called the comparison "inappropriate" and accused 
McManus of playing up media coverage.

"I didn't see him running away from the news cameras after the 
trial," he said.

Later, McManus called Saltonstall's interpretation of his comments 
"troubling."

Jackowski's daughter, Christine Jackowski, also testified, choking 
up, and eventually crying, before finishing a short statement to the 
court. Asking for a sentence of time served, Christine Jackowski 
spoke of her mother's "unwavering commitment to children," as well 
as her care to raise her daughter to understand the value of peace. 
"She is an example of bravery to us all," she said, breaking into 
tears.

Jackowski is planning to take part at an anti-war protest in 
Manchester Sunday. The protest is organized by Veterans for 
Peace.

"I do not have any illegal acts planned at the moment," she said, 
eliciting laughter from her supporters. 




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