Jackowski is a 69-year-old grandmother, former schoolteacher and Air Force
veteran 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 yet once again. That put her back to square one.
Quite undaunted, Rosemarie took up that next challenge. "I'm very willing
and ready to go to trial again," Rosemarie 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," she said. Her supposed
"crime" was taking part in a peaceful demonstration that blocked traffic
for 15 minutes in downtown Bennington, Vermont. Her act of resistance
consisted of standing in silence while bowing her head and holding a
protest sign. That was on the first day of the Shock and Awe bombing in
Iraq that initiated the present war and has cost so many lives. Rosemarie
had warned of the dangers. "I am most concerned about the loss of civilian
life," she said at the time. She was a messenger with an unwelcome
There's got to be some irony in the fact that she was an Air Force
veteran, opposing a war that was promoted and run mostly by people who'd
avoided military service. The Commander-in-Chief himself was a military
deserter. Meanwhile, many of Rosemarie's supporters were veterans.
Rosemarie is an active member of Veterans for Peace.
Rosemarie's ordeal by trial dragged on for nearly four years. During that
time she continued her efforts as a peace activist and advocate
journalist. She spoke to groups and wrote for websites. She also ran for
Vermont Attorney General on a third-party ticket and received 10,299
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 written
by supporters and posted on independent media sites, especially on the
MickeyZ blog site. The publicity itself generated more publicity.
"Meet the anti-war movement's newest folk hero," read an Associated Press
article which was published in over eighty newspapers across the country
and around the world last December.
It's hard to say what the verdict would've been, had her case gone to
trial a second time. Rosemarie might've won an acquittal. Or, she might've
gone to jail for a couple of months, but, since she was resolved to do
whatever was necessary, that could hardly have silenced her and her cause.
On the other hand, there might've been a hung jury. What then? Keep
trying her over and over and over?
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. "Stay the course" must've been his motto. 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."
Meanwhile, the prosecutor's colleagues apparently felt they could find
better things to spend their time on, and, when Wright retired at the end
of January, the new prosecutor, seeing the perils involved in promoting
more publicity for Rosemarie, 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 Rosemarie; it was just 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."
Antiwar activist Rosemarie Jackowski hung in there for nearly four years,
and she won. She 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.
is an ex-Marine against the War, who writes stories about the Peace
Movement and other Progressive events. He was in the USMC from 1959-63.
His website is at:
* Read an article about Rosemarie Jackowski's first
trial in 2004.