Rev. Jackson’s Wife, Jacqueline, Jailed In Puerto Rico Bombing Protest – demonstration against Navy activities on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico – Brief Article
Jacqueline Jackson, wife of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, remained in jail at JET press time in Puerto Rico for protesting the Navy’s bombing tests on Vieques Island in Puerto Rico.
Mrs. Jackson and nine others were arrested on misdemeanor trespassing charges after they broke into the camp where the Navy tests dummy bombs, which critics say pose a health risk to islanders and the environment.
While the U.S. Navy denies the charge, President Bush announced recently that the Navy will withdraw from Vieques in two years. But opponents want the bombing tests to stop now.
Mrs. Jackson traveled to Vieques at the request of Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), a critic of the testing.
Mrs. Jackson, who refused to post bail, remained in a federal prison in San Juan, Puerto Rico, at JET press time, awaiting trial. She also was placed in solitary confinement after she refused to submit to a strip search.
“Because she refused cavity body searches of her private parts, she is now in a hole in solitary confinement,” Rev. Jackson said. “That is cruel and unnecessary punishment.”
Mrs. Jackson also said she would no longer meet with her family while at the federal prison because other prisoners are denied that right.
Rev. Jackson said after visiting his wife: “Because the officials have taken away family visitation privileges of other inmates, Jackie’s not going to accept privileges if they cannot have them. They’re treating the political prisoners as common criminals.”
Rev. Jackson, along with three of their children, Jonathan, Yusef and Jacqueline, recently visited his wife. He told the Chicago Tribune that his wife was dressed in a khaki jail uniform and being held in a “damp, dingy cell.”
The couple’s son, Attorney Yusef Jackson, told reporters in San Juan that his mother was being treated “as if she were a criminal” and that bail demanded was “excessive, cruel and wrong.”
Rev. Jackson did not rule out the possibility that he would try to trespass on Navy lands in protest, which could land him in prison.
“I’ve not determined yet the most effective way to support the efforts,” he said. “My wife has encouraged me to spend time on the outside mobilizing support.”
Mrs. Jackson’s arrest has triggered an outcry of support from national leaders. A rally was scheduled at press time in Chicago.
Rev. Jackson said he is asking the U.S. attorney general to investigate the detention of his wife and the other activists, stressing that the jail sentences are excessive and they are receiving cruel treatment. Rev. Jackson also said he will push for congressional hearings to investigate the bombing tests at Vieques.
Mrs. Jackson’s son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), and Reps. Maxine Waters (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI) and Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) are among the lawmakers rallying behind Mrs. Jackson. They are urging Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate her treatment in prison and are also urging Bush to end the Navy bombing tests on Vieques.
Rep. Waters told JET: “I am extremely proud of Jackie Jackson. I’ve known about her human rights work for years, because she is a friend of mine. Jackie Jackson is very tough, very committed and they can not break her. I stand with her in this struggle to stop the bombing on Vieques. And in the final analysis, we will win.”
Rev. Jackson said of his wife’s heroic actions: “Her spirits are strong. Her purpose is clear … I’m so proud of her,” he said, noting that his wife was jailed in the “best tradition of Dr. King and Gandhi.”
More than 180 people have been arrested for trespassing on Navy property including Rev. Al Sharpton, who has been on a hunger strike in a New York prison since May 29, consuming only liquids.
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