Charges Against Vermont Peace Activist Dropped




R

osemarie Jackowski is a 69year-old
grandmother, former schoolteacher, Air Force veteran, and active
member of Veterans for Peace who was arrested at a peace demonstration
in March 2003. A year and a half later she was finally tried and
convicted. She faced two months in jail and a $500 fine. When the
conviction was eventually overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court
in the fall of 2006, it looked like she’d won. However, the
prosecuting attorney announced plans to try her again. 


Undaunted, Jackowski took up that next challenge. “I’m
very willing and ready to go to trial again,” Jackowski told
the

Bennington Banner

. “It will be much more easy for
me this time. I will have experience at being a defendant in a criminal
trial,” she said. “I don’t believe that I am guilty
of anything.” Her supposed “crime” was taking part
in a peaceful demonstration that blocked traffic for 15 minutes
in downtown Bennington. Her act of resistance consisted of standing
in silence while bowing her head and holding a protest sign on the
first day of the “shock and awe” bombing in Iraq. 


During her four-year trial, Jackowski continued her efforts as a
peace activist and advocate journalist. She spoke to groups and
wrote for websites. She also ran for attorney general on a thirdparty
ticket and received 10,299 votes. 


One result of all this was an ongoing series of articles in Vermont
newspapers as well as letters to the editors. Her story was also
told by supporters and posted on independent media sites. The publicity
generated more interest. “Meet the anti-war movement’s
newest folk hero,” read an Associated Press article published
in over 80 newspapers across the country and around the world last
December. 


William D. Wright, the Bennington County State’s Attorney,
had clearly gotten himself into a no-win situation, but he insisted
on going ahead with the retrial. Perhaps he couldn’t see his
mistake, but others did. A letter in the

Rutland Herald

read,
“If it hadn’t been for these trials, most of us would
never have heard of Rosemarie Jackowski. So maybe in a perverse
sort of way the state’s attorney is doing a good service.” 


When Wright retired at the end of January, the new prosecutor, seeing
the perils involved in promoting more publicity for Jackowski, immediately
dropped the charges. In an editorial titled “Good Move,”
the conservative

Bennington Banner

called the new prosecutor’s
decision “both expected and welcome.” The newspaper was
no supporter of Jackowski, but it was extremely relieved to see
the end of “what was threatening to become a long-running soap
opera that essentially would waste the court’s time.” 






Rosemarie
Jackowski hung in there for nearly four years and won. She has graciously
thanked her many supporters, some from as far away as China. She should
also thank former prosecutor William Wright who so unwittingly added
the final chapter to her victory. 





Daniel
Borgström is an ex-Marine against the war. He’s part of
a small group that holds a weekly peace walk around Lake Merritt in
Oakland, California. He also writes about progressive events.