Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, USA
There are the people who risk everything to protest the evils of nuclear power and nuclear weapons — even putting their lives on the line. Some of them are eventually tried and jailed.
And then there are the people who support those anti-nuclear resisters. Two people who have devoted a lifetime to this cause are Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa. Together, they offer support to those imprisoned for the “crime” of sacrificing their personal freedom in the cause of a nuclear-free world.
Since 1980, Jack and Felice, under the mantel of their newsletter and charitable organization — The Nuclear Resister — have provided comprehensive reporting on thousands of anti-nuclear resisters, and especially those subsequently jailed for their actions. In 1990, they expanded their work to include reporting on anti-war resisters, with the same emphasis on prisoner support.
Jack and Felice were both actively involved in the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s. Jack was himself arrested during a campaign of blockades at the Rocky Flats plutonium factory, and visited protesters who spent months in jail. Felice attended demonstrations at the Pentagon, and at the Seabrook, Shoreham and Three Mile Island nuclear power plants. They recognized that with more activists going to jail, it was important to start a prisoner support network for the anti-nuclear movement. Originally calling the network The National No-Nukes Prison Support Collective, they changed the name to The Nuclear Resister in 1982.
Before becoming involved in the nuclear issue, Jack had been writing to and visiting prisoners, and he later saw the value of bringing prisoner advocacy issues to the attention of anti-nuclear activists. “Prisoner advocacy has got to be the most frustrating and thankless branch of social activism, yet it is crucial to the success of the movement,” he said.
As Jack and Felice, say, once jailed, anti-nuclear or anti-war resisters are physically isolated from their supporters and their own resistance activity is limited. But through constant contact with the outside world, they can still inspire others.
“The words of resisters and accounts of their actions do a great deal in encouraging others to strengthen their own commitment,” say Jack and Felice. “Those inside inspire others to greater resistance and our movement grows stronger”.