[saymaListserv] Vermont Woman Practices Active Non-Violence
nc_stereoman at charter.net
Sun Oct 17 12:15:02 JEST 2004
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
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
"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
"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
"Personally, I find the word 'reparative' very insulting," she told
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
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
"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
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
Jackowski is planning to take part at an anti-war protest in
Manchester Sunday. The protest is organized by Veterans for
"I do not have any illegal acts planned at the moment," she said,
eliciting laughter from her supporters.
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