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Longest Jailed Nuclear Resister Helen Woodson Needs Support

Helen Woodson, jailed for all but a few days since 1984 for a series of nonviolent direct actions against nuclear weapons, war, and the desecration of the environment, will be released from prison in the United States later this year. She'll need support, if you are able to help.
January, 2011

Dear friends,

Over the years we have spent time in prison and/or supported other activists who have been in prison for acts of conscience. We write to you now with a special request on behalf of Helen Woodson.

Back in November of 1984, Helen was part of the Silo Pruning Hooks action. She went to a Missouri nuclear missile silo along with Larry Cloud-Morgan, Fr. Carl Kabat OMI and Fr. Paul Kabat OMI. With sledgehammer and jackhammer, the group followed the biblical mandate of Isaiah to turn swords into plowshares. They were convicted and received a varied number of years of prison time for their action.

With the exception of a few days, Helen has been in prison ever since. (A couple of times in past years when released, she immediately engaged in an action that resulted in arrest and being returned directly to prison for violating parole.)

She is scheduled to be released in September of 2011 after 27 years behind bars.

Helen is looking forward to getting out, and at the age of 67 and with health issues, has decided to now retire from activities that might return her to prison.

It's been a long time since she's lived on the outside. She'll leave prison with a sweatsuit, plus books that she's accumulated. That's it.

Since she will leave prison with no source of income or health coverage, she plans to apply for government assistance, but it can take six or so months for someone to find out if they are eligible to receive benefits. In the meantime, in addition to things like food and clothes, she'll need to purchase medications for multiple health problems, at quite a significant cost. So she has asked friends to raise funds on her behalf (not money to be used while she is in prison, but for the things she'll need once she's released).

Her living situation once she's released is still uncertain. It has been challenging for her to develop a plan that the Bureau of Prisons and Department of Justice find suitable since Helen will be subjected to many conditions and restrictions after her release. The couple who have invited her to live with them are still waiting to be contacted to answer the questions and receive the home visit needed to determine if Helen will be allowed to live there. Helen is very much hoping that they and their home will be approved. If not, she is not sure where she will be able to live, and it's possible additional money will need to be raised to enable her to rent a small place to live.

In the meantime, until this becomes more clear, it will ease her mind significantly if she can at least know that she'll be able to pay for the medicines she needs, and things like a winter coat. Can you help?

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, many thousands of people in the U.S. and around the world have been arrested for anti-nuclear civil disobedience, and hundreds have spent time in prison for these actions. None of these people (not even long-imprisoned Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu) have spent more time in prison than Helen Woodson. We ask that you join us now in providing her with needed support as she embarks on this huge transition after her many years in prison.

Please be as generous as you are able! Any amount, from $1 to $1000, will be gratefully received. Checks and money orders can be made payable to the Nuclear Resister (with "for Helen" written on the memo line) and sent to the Nuclear Resister, PO Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733. Secure online donations can be made via paypal at the Nuclear Resister website at < http://www.nukeresister.org/donate/>www.nukeresister.org/donate (on the final screen please click on "add special instructions to the seller" and note that the donation is for Helen).

Thank you.


Jacqueline Allen-Doucot
Hartford Catholic Worker

Elizabeth McAlister
Jonah House

Felice Cohen-Joppa
The Nuclear Resister

Anna Brown
Kairos Community

homepage: homepage: http://www.nukeresister.org

huh 14.Feb.2011 13:06


"the group followed the biblical mandate of Isaiah to turn swords into plowshares"

Looks like she forgot about that when she robbed a bank.

Funny how you never mention that in the article, but just say that she "immediately engaged in an action that resulted in arrest and being returned directly to prison for violating parole"

@rex 14.Feb.2011 14:05


According to the internets:

"Three days after her 1993 release from prison in the Whiteman silo protest, Woodson walked into an Illinois bank and used an unloaded starter pistol to get $25,000 from a teller.

According to press reports, she piled the money on the floor, burned it and told witnesses: "Money is evil. You don't believe in God; you only worship money."

Unloaded starter pistols are not capable of physically injuring anyone. And most "bank robbers" don't burn the money.

Not saying this is right or that she's "all there" compared to most people.

well 14.Feb.2011 20:27


The teller who had the harmless starter pistol aimed at them was probably totally cool with it once they found out it wasn't lethal right?

spin once stop 14.Feb.2011 22:14


Working at a greedy (sic)bank can get you killed these days

If one does wanna 'work' for the capitalist/bank/fukers who steal from all of us daily, then you take your chances, in that high risk\big gain industry.

Did Helen Woodson "really want to point an unloaded starter pistol" at the hard working teller?

NO!! ...How do I know? - I don't but I bet she didn't like it one friken bit.

Ask me if I think the teller had any remorse working for a bank that could care less about people?

I wont even answer that.

Sometimes in capitalism and greed there are many more victims than the your eyes can see.

all in all, a straw-man story during a revolution amounts to a bucket with a hole in it.

@rex 15.Feb.2011 22:50


That's why I purposely wrote that the starter pistol is not capable of "physically injuring" anyone. I wasn't there and don't know anything that happened. Maybe the gun was not even shown. Maybe the teller was a quivering mess forever.

I also said I wasn't saying that her action was right.

Progressive Stupidity 16.Feb.2011 10:41

J. David Cummings

So, point a loaded starter pistol at your face and pull the trigger, then come back and tell us that it won't hurt you, fool.

Oh the Irony 17.Feb.2011 00:50

fact checker

what J. David Cummings means is that banks, wall street, their henchmen and the whole corrupt pack of capitalist pigs have impunity for when ever they "need to stick a gun in the face of class-ism"

Yet for Helen to do so, and over a decade in jail later,
to see this display J. for she "at least did her (sic)time"
We get to read J. calling this progressive stupidity. (?)

He marginalizes Helen as he "completely ignores what banks have done an are doing to us all" day in and day out.

A pistol is in our face and we have fools folly reminding us to be blindly obedient to our master "cash / bankster"

I don't advocate sticking anything in anyones face, starter, BB or the real deal.
But then I do understand the bigger picture and I see whats going on here.

Fact Checker - Irony Indeed 17.Feb.2011 04:54

J. David Cummings

So, just what facts are you checking. Certainly not what I said. I was responding to the moron who said that a starter pistol would not hurt anyone. I didn't say one word about woodson, I didn't have to marginalize her, she did it for herself. You have no facts, asshole, in fact it seems that all you know is not true. Don't try to put words in someone's mouth out of your fevered little mind. You are not up to the task.

Cummings get marginalized 19.Feb.2011 12:24

fact checker

Please note J. David Cummings is an expert.

Just what he he is an expert is questionable and unclear here on indymedia?
In his doublespeak, he says he didn't have to marginalize her, as he is in fact doing it as he writes.

But as I pointed out he is an expert and his words are definitive and not to be questioned. His motives to write negatively about Helen are even more questionable.

I point out one of his spins to marginalize Helen and he is cummings unglued.
Must of hit a nerve (irony needed indeed)(pun intended)

UNLOADED starter pistol 19.Feb.2011 12:32

fact checker

She (Helen) used an "unloaded starter pistol"

Last time I checked these facts back in 1979 I found that:
>> Unloaded starter pistols will cause zero damage and will not hurt humans or animals"

No need to reply or question these facts (unless your up to the task)

(Summary) Unloaded starter pistols will not hurt anyone unless used as a striking object, or thrown.

benefits at age 67 07.Jun.2011 15:33


according to what i have observed, it doesn't take 6 months to get social security when you are age 67. if that's what you were talking about. because of her age, if she is qualified for the benefits, they don't take as long as a non-elderly person who is applying for disability ssi.