REVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY: THE LEGACY OF JUDI BARI
A radio documentary produced by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio
-- transcript --
Clip from radio newscast: Earth First! Activist Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney are under arrest. The White Subaru that they were riding in suddenly exploded, blowing out the windows and the driver's door, buckling the roof, leaving burn marks on the roadway. Today police say the couple knew they were driving around with a bomb inside. “The evidence strongly points to the fact that they were possessing and transporting that device when it detonated.” Police believe that the bomb was being carried in a guitar case owned by Judi Bari.
Noelle Hanrahan/narrator: This edition of Alternative Radio features the radio documentary “Revolutionary Ecology.”
Ruby Dee/narrator: On May 24th, 1990, a bomb wrapped in nails for shrapnel effect when off under the driver’s seat of Earth First! activist Judi Bari’s car. Judi was nearly killed by the attempted assassination. Her pelvis literally exploded, and it was only through the force of her will that she ever walked again. Fellow Earth First!er Darryl Cherney, who was beside her in the passenger seat, suffered facial cuts and broken eardrums. The FBI terrorist squad arrived on the scene within twenty-five minutes and framed these non-violent activists for the bombing that was meant to kill them. One might ask, what brought Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney to the attention of the FBI? The answer lies in the fact that Northern California Earth First! had begun to build the first-ever coalition between environmentalists and timber workers.
Judi Bari was a blue-collar worker and union organizer in Maryland before she moved west, where she raised her children and worked as a carpenter in Mendocino County California. It was these labor union roots that she brought with her to the struggle to save California’s old-growth redwood forests.
Judi Bari built bridges across cultural, class and racial divides. She brought loggers who had worked these rural lands for generations together with young idealistic environmentalists who were committed to preventing the destruction of the redwood forest. Workers and environmentalists were poised to take on the timber companies “clearcut and run” logging practices that were not only destroying the forest but also jeopardizing the livelihoods of entire working communities. In fact, to the timber companies, this new logger-Earth First! alliance was a declaration of war.
In 1997 Judi Bari, weakened by two assassination attempts and in constant pain, succumbed to breast cancer and died at the age of 47, leaving behind her two young daughters, Lisa and Jessica. Longtime Earth First! organizer Karen Pickett welcomed over a thousand people to a memorial in Judi Bari’s honor at Martin Luther King Jr. School in Berkeley, California.
Karen Pickett: When people talk about Judi, a lot of superlatives keep popping up. David Brower called her “an ardent defender of justice,” and Holly Near used the words “vibrant” and “articulate.” And you’ll hear other words over and over again, like “feisty,” “fiery” and “funny.” Judi was outrageously funny. She was really the queen of the quips. And at a time very shortly after she was bombed, when she was dealing with the tremendous pain and horror of what had happened, she said things like, “Well, they bombed the wrong end of me.” Later she said, “I sure hope the FBI finds the bomber … and fires him.”
She was a brilliant strategist. She had the ability to recognize the point in time to bring in different tactics or organizing strategies that would change the course of a campaign. Redwood Summer was a good example of that. She was the one who recognized that it was the time to start doing national mass organizing on the redwoods issue. Judi was a true revolutionary. She was an in-the-trenches activist who not only made the speeches, raised the money and did the organizing, but she also did the mailings, made the phone calls and took care of all the little details. She was a leader, but she did not put herself above any kind of work.
Speaking of work, we are on the brink of a lot of activity right now. And Judi’s case is closer than ever to trial. We all need to make sure that that case proceeds and wins, exposing the FBI’s dirty deeds and getting a step closer to finding out who bombed Judi Bari. We need to make sure that no more ancient trees in Headwaters fall to Charles Hurwitz’s axe. We need to make sure that the FBI doesn’t get away with their lethal policies of squashing dissident activity. And Judi often said of her fight against the FBI, “This is not about me. This is about activist people everywhere. This is about the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independistas. This is about all of us. For that reason the spirit of Judi Bari lives on in her work and in all of us who carry on that work. Viva Judi Bari!
Music: Judi singing "LP."
Ruby Dee/narrator: In a speech at Humboldt State University Judi Bari describes Redwood Summer.
Judi Bari: Redwood Summer was planned in response to the timber companies having an accelerated cutting schedule. They were cutting faster than they are now, because they don’t have any trees left there any more. Headwaters forest was being threatened. A lot of activists in EPIC and other groups had gotten together a voter initiative called Forests Forever. The timber companies planned on cutting down every tree they could that summer so that the vote would be as moot as possible if it won. So our plan with Redwood Summer was to block every tree that we could from being cut down. The plan was to physically slow them down using non-violent civil disobedience.
Darryl Cherney introduces song “Who Bombed Judi Bari”: This is a song that I wrote for Judi, after we were bombed. Even though I was in the car, Judi was the target of that bomb. It was under her seat.
“Now Judi Bari is a Wobbly organizer, a Mother Jones of the Georgia Pacific Mill. She fought for the saw mill workers hit by that PCB spill. G. Marshall Hahn’s calling GP’s shots from Atlanta, Don Nelson sold him the union long ago. Now they weren’t going to have no Wobblies running their logging show. So they spewed out their hatred, and they laid out their scams. Jerry Philbrick called for violence, was no secret what they planned. So I ask you now, who bombed Judi Bari?”
Ruby Dee/narrator: Carl Anthony, President of Earth Island Institute and Urban Habitat.
Carl Anthony: It is a long journey in time, space and political consciousness from the sweltering heat of Neshoba County Mississippi, where Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered in 1964, at the beginning of Mississippi Summer, to the timber wars of the Pacific Northwest which led to the car bombing in 1990 of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney for the politics of resistance in organizing Redwood Summer.
Judi Bari was 15 years old when the militant activists of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) called upon the young people from college campuses to mobilize a massive force of volunteers as field workers in Mississippi to call national and international attention to the voting rights of black sharecroppers in the lowlands of the deep South.
And a quarter of a century later, many people had forgotten the lessons of 1964. To reach the Northwest primeval forest from the lowlands of the South, one must traverse the Mississippi bottoms, the sea of grass in the middle states, the High Plateau of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, the great and thirsty American desert, the double rim of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast ranges.
But the journey in political consciousness is perhaps as long and equally complex and tortuous. The politics, then and now, challenge us to reconcile and to reconsider our understanding of rural vs. urban, native people vs. immigrants, working people vs. corporate managers and investors, non-violence vs. violence, and the rights of nature vs. the prerogatives of people.
Judi Bari and her supporters, unlike many of us, made that complex and tortuous journey. And she made that journey for those of us who now are left behind.
Some of us wanted to believe that we could have social justice and destroy the basis of life on the planet. Others wanted to believe that we could save the trees and tell poor people and working people, and people of color to go to hell. But Judi Bari was different. She taught us that the rights of nature and the rights of working people are cut from the same cloth.
In 1990, a group of 150 civil rights organizations sent a letter to the established environmental organizations in this country accusing them of racism. January of that year marked the public emergence of the environmental justice movement. In the same month, Judi Bari and her colleagues announced a campaign modeled on Mississippi Summer, which came to be known as Redwood Summer. During Redwood Summer, Earth First! brought thousands of protesters to the Pacific Northwest to save the primeval redwood forest.
The press and the corporations did not want us to know that Judi was inspired by the civil rights movement and that in her uncompromising stand to save the trees, that she was also uncompromising in her commitment to the timber workers, to their occupational health and safety and their right to participate in the decisions that affect their lives. Corporate leaders wanted us to believe that the choice was between environmental protection and jobs. But Judi knew better. In reality she taught us that the interests of the timber workers and the interests of environmentalists were one and the same. The real choice was between worship of greed and private profit versus respect for life.
In her efforts to bring militant environmentalists and timber workers together, Judi Bari stands on the shoulders of Henry David Thoreau, advocate of the rights of nature, protestor against the Fugitive Slave Law. Thoreau, who spent the night in jail in an act of resistance against the Mexican-American War, wrote his famous essay “Civil Disobedience,” inspiring Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Judi Bari stands on the shoulders of Mahatma Gandhi, who through non-violent civil disobedience led his people from under the shackles of the British colonialism. Judi stands on the shoulders of Martin Luther King, cut down in his prime defending garbage workers. She stands on the shoulders of Chico Mendez, who organized the rubber tappers of Brazil to protect their rights and to save the rainforest.
I want to leave with a recollection of an experience that I had of a funeral that occurred when I first came to Berkeley in the early 1970s. It was the funeral of George Jackson, who was killed at San Quentin. And I want to leave you with the words of his mother, who stood in the sun while hundreds of us came to mourn George Jackson. We waited in line for almost an hour to shake the hands of this wonderful woman. I looked into her eyes. She looked at me and she said, “Don’t cry, fight!”
Ruby Dee/narrator: Gene Lawhorn is a union carpenter and a former mill worker.
Gene Lawhorn: My first contact with Judi was through the written word in The Industrial Worker. I wrote a letter to Judi in answer to an article that she wrote seeking contact with environmental wood products workers. That was around the summer of 1989. I had just come back after five months on the picket line at Roseburg Forest Products. Some time in February in 1990, Judi called me to ask me to participate in a panel with her at the University of Oregon’s Land, Air, and Water conference on the subject of bridging the gap between workers and environmentalists. But when Judi approached the panel organizers, she had to threaten to boycott to get me on that panel.
That was my first experience with Judi and her efforts to bust classism within the environmental movement. It was at that conference in March of 1990 that I challenged Earth First! activists to renounce tree spiking if they truthfully wanted to bridge the gap between workers and environmentalists. To my surprise and everyone else’s, Judi Bari stood up and she proclaimed that she agreed with me and thereby renounced the tactic of tree spiking. About a month after the conference, under Judi’s leadership, Northern California and Willamette Earth First! groups publicly renounced tree spiking in an effort to further reach out to working folks in the timber industry, and thus she made history.
She went to the front lines and stood front and center to fight for working people and the ancient forests. To Judi it was all one struggle, and it was about social justice. She was able to tie the issues of forest protection and workplace justice together like no one else could.
And that is why she was bombed. That is why the FBI attempted to frame her and Darryl Cherney for the bombing. It scared the hell out of the resource-extractive industries to think that we as workers and environmentalists might get together to really challenge their power.
It is the same way that they reacted back in 1877, Vladimir, Homestead, Verdin, Ludlow, Everett, Centralia, Matewan, and on to the many other cities and times across this nation when U.S. troops and detective agency death squads massacred working people and their wives and children when they dared to fight for better working and living conditions.
Darryl Cherney sings: “Well I come from a long long line of tree felling men. And this company town was here before my grandpappy settled in. We kept enough trees a-standing, so our kids could toe the line, but now a big corporation come and bought us out, got us working double time. Tell me, where are we gonna work when the trees are gone? Say, will the big boss have us wash his car or maybe mow his law? I’m a Man, I’m a Man, I’m a lumberjack man, but I fear it ain’t for long. Tell me, where are we gonna work when the trees are the gone?”
Ruby Dee/narrator: Judi Bari talks about organizing timber workers during a speech in Portland Oregon.
Judi Bari: What everybody has been asking me for the last two days is, how do you organize timber workers? How do you organize loggers? How do you get loggers to talk to Earth First!ers? And the first answer is that you have to like loggers. And I already did. ’Cause you know, having been a blue-collar worker my whole adult life, the conditions of my life are actually more similar to them than to the privileged environmentalists in the city.
The espresso-sucking pavement dwellers, as we call them. Being from a rural area and being a working class person, I can relate for those reasons. A lot of it really depends on your attitude. The thing that happens is that people who are more educated or who are from urban areas tend to really look down, especially on rural working people.
What I have discovered from a lifetime of being a non-achiever is that intelligence is equally distributed among the social classes. Dan Quayle is the perfect example of that. But there is a tendency of urban people to look down and consider the timber workers stupid, to talk down to them. I have heard a 21-year-old college student say to a 45-year-old logger, “Do you know what biodiversity is?” If you do that, that is the end of the conversation.
So what I do is just talk to people. It has been incredibly easy, because there is nobody speaking for the timber workers out there. The Wise Use movement, the anti-environmentalists , those people are management. And in fact they are low-level management. They are fronting for the corporations. But they are not the workers.
Nobody is speaking for the workers. The unions have mostly been smashed or corrupted themselves, and the actual interest of the workers is not expressed in the political spectrum in the timber wars.
So one thing I did is having some respect for them as intelligent human beings, instead of telling the timber workers what to do, which is the other mistake that environmentalists always make. I asked them to tell me about their working conditions and their lives.
The way that I would meet them, by the way, is that we would blockade them. Here they are, and we’re chained to their truck, they’re not going anywhere. That actually is how I really started meeting timber workers. You know, they’re kind of curious about these people who are audacious enough to actually hike into the middle of nowhere in the woods and put their bodies on the line.
So, as I began to hear their stories — I didn’t even do this consciously — I began to give them a forum. By listening to them, by asking them instead of telling them, I not only learned a lot of wisdom from them, but also began to build an alliance by advocating for the timber workers’ issues in the community. It didn’t have to be save the trees. I advocated for workplace issues separately, understanding that it’s the same thing. The workplace issues are neither separate from nor subordinate to the forest issues. They are all part of corporate exploitation of the earth and the people.
Darryl Cherney sings: “Hurwitz stole Pacific Lumber, used junk bonds to get the cash. Left the mighty redwood forest a pile of broken slash. Ivan Boesky made his millions when MAXXAM’s deal was done. A billion dollars paid with Redwood blood and the workers’ pension fund. MAXXAM’s on the horizon, dollars seen in every redwood tree. MAXXAM’s on the horizon, ain’t no one safe with Hurwitz running free ...”
Judi Bari: So when the bomb exploded it was May 24, 1990, and we were on our way to a concert in Santa Cruz where we were going to play songs, show a slide show and recruit for Redwood Summer among the college students there.
Ruby Dee/narrator: Judi Bari in a talk at Humboldt State University.
Judi Bari: I can’t even describe how horrible it was. I can tell you I knew it was a bomb the second that it exploded. I felt it rip through me with a force more powerful and terrible than anything that I could describe. But the horror of this experience didn’t end with the bombing itself, because within minutes of the bombing the FBI terrorist squad from the San Francisco FBI office was on the scene. And I mean literally within minutes. Certainly within half an hour, according to their own records. The first record that we have of them being on the scene is a log by the Oakland police. And 25 minutes after the bomb explodes they recount their conversations with the FBI agents. So they were there pretty fast, considering that this was in Oakland, and that FBI office is in San Francisco. My lawyer wrote in the brief, “The FBI was there in a thrice, almost as if they had been standing around the corner holding their ears.” (laughs)
At any rate, they were certainly there quickly. They quickly took control. They talked to the Oakland Police, who were the responding agency, and said to the Oakland Police, “We know these people. These people are terrorists.” This was testified to by Sgt. Sitterud of the Oakland Police. He said, “They told us that these were the kind of people who would carry a bomb. They told us that these people in fact qualified as terrorists.”
The Oakland police have a long relationship with the FBI anyway, certainly going back to the days of the Black Panthers. With this stuff being told to them by the FBI, they were willing to cooperate. But it’s not just that they accidentally thought that I bombed myself. What we have found is that they told some very, very deliberate lies. You can not really excuse the Oakland police for going along with it, because these lies were so obvious that anybody with a set of eyes in their head could have seen them.
FBI special agent Frank Doyle was the bomb expert on the terrorist squad. The reasons for the arrest are laid out in the search warrant. The Oakland Police say, “I viewed the bombed car along with special agent Frank Doyle of the FBI. Frank Doyle informed me that the bomb was on the back seat floorboard, and therefore they should have seen it, and therefore they knew that they were carrying it.” Well, years later, as this lawsuit has progressed, we have gotten hold of the Oakland Police’s own photos. The place where Frank Doyle testified the bomb was is right were you put your feet when you are sitting in the back seat. But this (photo) shows the bomb was under the (driver’s) seat. Any idiot could see this. You don’t have to be a bomb expert to see that this bomb was not in the back seat.
At that point began an incredible press smear. From the moment that this bomb went off, an incredible press smear began nationwide. It is the only time that we ever made the front page of the New York Times. This press smear was to tell people that we were terrorists who had blown ourselves up with our own bomb. Although we can’t get anything that we actually do in the newspapers, this one got picked up all over the place. There were selected leaks and innuendoes given out by the FBI and the Oakland police in order to convince people that not only are we violent terrorists who carry bombs around in our car, but we are stupid violent terrorists who carry them under our own car seats.
Ruby Dee/narrator: Ed Herman is an economist, media analyst and co-author with Noam Chomsky of Manufacturing Consent.
Ed Herman: The police case was built on a lie that an honest media would have uncovered and publicized. But the mainstream media swallowed that lie and they swallowed the position of the police and the FBI almost uniformly. Their bias in the treatment of the bombing and the underlying issues was so blatant, in fact, that I used the newspaper reports of that time for some years as a case study in a course I gave at Penn on media bias. The New York Times had a front-page article by a woman named Katherine Bishop on May 26th, 1990. This article in itself is a beautiful illustration of media bias and worth thinking about. The police/FBI version totally controlled the structure of the article. The first subhead of the article was a quote, “Meant to be used.” It meant that the police version was that Bari and Cherney intended to use the bomb. The whole first paragraphs of the article are about the police version that they were transporting the bomb. The second heading in the article is, “Other groups are wary,” a reference to tree-spiking and all the negatives that contributed to making it look like this was a dangerous group. The language that was used was also incredibly illuminating. For example, in the very first paragraph this reporter says that supporters of Earth First! were “quick to denounce the charges.” The police and the FBI were there instantaneously. Never does the author suggest that they were quick to blame the Earth First!ers. No. And here is another beautiful piece of language. The aim of Earth First! was to quote “stop the harvesting of old growth redwoods,” sort of like you are collecting apples. “Harvesting” these two thousand-year-old redwoods. Later in the article the reporter says that the tension was rising because of what Earth First! was intending to do. The same reporter had another article a couple of weeks later where she talked about tensions rising because of Earth First!’s intention to use tactics like sitting in trees. One fundamental form of bias is that you treat the police and the FBI as sacred. This reporter never suggested that there was any question of police or FBI credibility.
Ruby Dee/narrator: Michael Parenti is a noted political writer and the author of History as Mystery and Against Empire.
Michael Parenti: There is often something important that is left unsaid when commemorating the life of someone like Judi Bari. It is important to speak of her marvelous qualities. Her capacity to lead, organize, inspire and get results. But we must also say something about the price she paid at the hands of our enemies. Alexander Cockburn begins the column he wrote on her in The Nation with, “Cancer nailed poor Judi Bari.” Putting aside the insensitive phrasing, cancer did not nail her. The repressive state killed her, I believe. They subjected her to death threats and assaults. They ran her car off the road. Then set off a bomb under her car seat that tore and mangled her previously vibrant, healthy body, causing lasting damage to her health and her immune system. From then on she lived in serious pain and discomfort. And her health became a more tenuous thing. She was subjected to the additional stress of being charged with the very crime that was committed against her.
I believe Judi succumbed to cancer because of the immense physical damage done to her. I believe that she would be alive today if it were not for that bomb. I accuse the state of murdering Judi Bari. The state eventually had to drop charges against her and Darryl Cherney because of lack of evidence, of course, but they investigated no further. They never tried to find out who tried to assassinate her and Darryl.
Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to denounce this action. We must also ask why. Why do public servants behave in this manner? Because they are not serving the public. Because their job is to suppress those groups that put people before profits to make the world safe for global investment and accumulation, for privilege and wealth, for power and hierarchy. The mandate of all security agencies is to infiltrate, undermine, disrupt and in other ways neutralize progressive activist groups, alternative media and anyone else who puts people before profits.
There are some people on the left who just don’t get it. They say, Aren’t you being paranoiac? They recognize that U.S. national security state agencies commit crimes in El Salvador, Guatemala and scores of other countries around the world. But they would not do that here. There is no counterinsurgency here. Then tell us who planted that bomb in Judi’s car. Was it the tooth fairy?
We hear from centrists that the FBI must keep tabs on extremists on both sides, the left and the right. But people like Judi who protect the environment are not extremists. The extremists are the people who destroy the environment, the ones whom the FBI and other domestic counterinsurgency agencies are dedicated to protecting. The extremists are already in power.
As for the right-wing extremists, the Klan and the Nazi nuts, undercover agents actually assist them. They assisted the Klan and the Nazi groups that massacred those communists in Greensboro North Carolina some years back. They supplied them with arms and maps showing how to get to Greensboro. They assisted in building secret army groups that have committed acts of terror against reformists and other activists. They move against the right themselves only when it gets out of hand and attacks banks and public agencies, and even then only rather lackadaisically.
Soon after Judi died I heard an obituary on Pacifica or NPR. I am not sure which. It is getting hard to tell them apart, it’s true. The commentator sounded cautiously sympathetic toward Judi, in that NPR or Pacifica way. He said, “Judi Bari was loved by some and hated by some.” I said to myself. Oooh, such balanced journalism. How objective, I said. That reporter is going to go far. He could spin off a few more balanced sentences like that and he’ll get mainstreamed and probably end up on NBC. “Judi was loved by some and hated by some.” Wrong! She was loved by many and hated by those privileged few who seek to plunder our natural resources for fast profits. She was hated by those who treat human beings, animals and the environment itself as dispensable resources for their accumulation process. I am giving you yet another reason why we can love and respect Judi, for the enemies she made as well as the friends.
Ruby Dee/narrator: Karen Pickett, long-time Earth First! activist and supporter of Leonard Peltier, explains how the FBI infiltrated and disrupted Earth First! prior to the car bomb assassination attempt against Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney.
Karen Pickett: As you hear people’s stories, the picture that emerges shows that the dark age of domestic spying and covert action against progressives has never ended. In the late 1980s, the FBI spent about $3 million, conducted over 1000 hours of wire tapping, and engaged 50 FBI agents, some of whom wore body wires to get more recordings, to set up a sting operation of the perceived leaders of Earth First! and to associate Earth First! with explosives.
This was in Arizona. It was called operation THERMCON because the FBI’s primary undercover agent and their hired informant tried over a period of many months to convince the Earth First! activists to use thermite and dynamite to take down power lines. When they were unsuccessful at convincing them to use explosives, the informant trained one of the activists in the use of an acetylene cutting torch and drove the group of activists in his truck, with FBI-purchased gasoline, out to the desert to cut down with a torch a transmission tower that brought power to the central Arizona project. Judi Bari called this the only Earth First!/FBI joint action. They were not busting a bombing conspiracy, they were creating one.
And in related harassment, there have been grand juries convened in a number of different states over the last decade calling scores of Earth First! activists before secret proceedings. There have been a lot of other incidents where we see the same tactics coming up that we have seen used against the Black Panthers, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence movement, CISPES. Tactics like forged mail, fake propaganda, disinformation and, in the case of the other movements, even lethal force.
The COINTELPRO-style dirty tricks against the environmental movement ushered in a new era. It led us to make even deeper connections with these other movements that we already had political connections with. This is something that Judi Bari always maintained, that solidarity with these other movements is of utmost importance. And as we stand up to this repression we are also in damned good company.
Ruby Dee/narrator: Judi Bari describes “Bomb School,” an FBI training exercise held on Louisiana Pacific land just one month before her car was blown up.
Judi Bari: I thought the FBI was evil before all of this stuff happened. But my cynicism has had a very hard time keeping up with reality in this case. This one shocked even me. What we discovered in the course of the depositions is that one month before the bomb went off in my car on May 24th, 1990, the FBI conducted a “bomb school,” their words, in Eureka, California, in the redwood region. They blew up cars with pipe bombs and practiced responding. The teacher of bomb school was Special Agent Frank Doyle, the very same one who took over the scene. The students at bomb school included at least five of the responding officers who worked under him picking up the debris. When we asked Sgt. Hanson from the Oakland police, How could you say that this bomb was in the back seat? He said, if Frank Doyle was my teacher, I wasn’t about to contradict him.
The place that they held this bomb school, the place where they blew up these cars, was on Louisiana Pacific land, one of our principal adversaries. We asked if Louisiana Pacific security was there. “Yes, they would be there to secure their interests.” So this alliance of LP and the FBI, and this exercise of blowing up cars with pipe bombs and practicing responding, virtually what they did was — Frank Doyle told the class at bomb school that “when people bomb each other they hardly ever put the bomb inside the passenger compartment” because it is allegedly so hard to break into a car. Instead, he said, they strap it underneath the car or put it in the engine. So one of the reasons that they said that they knew that this was my bomb was because the bomb was inside the passenger compartment.
If you think about what he is doing here, you can take your choice about how to describe this. You can either be a conspiracy theorist or a coincidence theorist. One month before the bombing, Frank Doyle actually created the same crime scene that they were about to respond to. They blew up three cars. We said, where were the bombs in the cars that they blew up? Two out of three were in the passenger compartment. What he was doing was he created virtually the same crime scene that they were about to respond to and told them that this crime scene is not consistent with the victim of a bombing. It is consistent with transporting a bomb. In addition to setting up this line of authority, Frank Doyle also prejudiced people’s response. So I am not saying that bomb school means that they had prior knowledge of the bomb, we will have to wait and see about that one. But it certainly prejudiced the respondents, and it set up a line of authority.
What they did to us was — the term for this in the FBI is COINTELPRO, counterintelligence program. This was a program started by J. Edgar Hoover back in the bad old days, and now in the bad new days they still do it. It is a way of targeting domestic radical groups that they think are a threat to the U.S. government. I guess that is quite a compliment for us. I guess we are a threat to Charles Hurwitz, and he is more powerful than the government, so maybe it all adds up.
J. Edgar Hoover described COINTELPRO as a program “to expose, misdirect, isolate, and neutralize” political groups that he didn’t like. That is what has been done to Earth First! The methods that they used in COINTELPRO include disinformation, fake documents, infiltration, agent provocateurs, fomenting infighting within a group, getting the group to do things so that they will be discredited, and also framing and assassinating leaders.
The most famous victims of COINTELPRO were Martin Luther King, who was spied on in his motel room, and in the Black Panther movement there were 32 killed in all. Fred Hampton was a famous victim of COINTELPRO, murdered in his bed. Geronimo Pratt, framed by the very same guy, Richard W. Held, who was in charge of our case at the FBI. Leonard Peltier is another well-known victim of COINTELPRO. They did not just frame Geronimo. Before they framed him and put him in jail, they fomented infighting within the leadership so that people in Black Panthers thought Geronimo was an FBI agent. Then, when he was framed, the other Panthers would not testify in his behalf.
One of the ways that they fomented this infighting is that they had nasty cartoons. The FBI does not make up the divisions in your group. They take real divisions and they kind of fan the flames. There is another group, a Black Nationalist group, called United Slaves or US. The leader was named Karenga. They had these cartoons that were sent from one faction to the other … cartoons, death threats and insulting letters. And each faction thinking that the cartoons and letters were from the other faction, but they were all from the FBI. Two Panthers were killed in the fighting that resulted, which they considered a great success.
So the eventually COINTELPRO was exposed, not because of anything that the U.S. government did but because in 1971, some people broke into the FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, and liberated the files. Back then they used to be very open. They called it COINTELPRO, they said we had an order to neutralize Huey Newton. They even had an order to neutralize Tom Hayden. They got about 10,000 pages of files. They went through them and exposed this horrible program. It took them four years to get a Congressional hearing in the Senate, before Senator Church, called the Church Committee. This was in 1975. At that time the U.S. Senate Committee ruled that COINTELPRO was illegal and that it violated basic constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. You may have heard of the Attorney General guidelines. This is what is being undermined by the counterterrorism bill. They set rules for the FBI and what they could and could not do. They cannot spy on people. They cannot harass people They cannot engage with people because of political activities. They are only allowed to investigate crime. They are not allowed to investigate radical political groups or any political groups.
Music -- “Who Bombed Judi Bari,” sung by Darryl Cherney: “Now Judi Bari is an Earth First! Organizer. The California redwoods are her home. Now she called for Redwood Summer where the owl and the black bear roam. Charlie Hurwitz he runs Maxxam out of Houston. Harry Merlo runs LP from Portland town. They are the men they call King Timber, they know how to cut you down. And Shep Tucker spewed their hatred, as Candy Boak laid out their scam, John Campbell called for violence, was no secret what they planned. So I ask you now who bombed Judi Bari? I know you are out there still. Have you seen her broken body or the spirit you can’t kill?”
Ruby Dee/narrator: Geronimo ji jaga, was recently released after spending 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. He was framed by FBI special agent Richard W. Held.
Geronimo ji jaga: Before I left prison, Judi contacted me. I think that it is very important that we understand the connections in all of our struggles. This is what Judi exemplified and personified, in so many ways. Held and his daddy, that is the biggest criminal gang in the history of the United States, and it is called the FBI. What Held did, what this pig did, in 1969, in Los Angeles, was create a situation between the US organization and the Black Panther Party which resulted in three known deaths, and we know there were more. They bragged about it. They took credit for it. They gave each other medals for it. Straight up murder of beautiful young warriors, who were out not to rob, not to rape, to not do nothing but feed some children and contribute to a process that had still been evolving out of slavery. They are dead. Held killed them. So we have to look at that and use that to unify us, based on the understanding that we have a common enemy. We are dealing with some Nazis. The same mentality of genocide and racism and everything that goes with it. Whatever we can do we are going to do, especially in continuing to preserve this Earth and protecting it from all of these exploitative and avaricious pigs that don’t care nothing about Mother Earth.
Down home I want you to know that you are welcome to come down to the Atchafalaya swamplands and understand the culture and the history down there. Right in the cypress swamps, outside of New Orleans, between where I grew up and the city of New Orleans, was the biggest slave uprising during slavery, in 1811. But you don’t know that. And it could not have been done without the Chitamacha, without the Hama, without the Kato, without the Chacahoula, without the native Tchoupitoulas, the native people who came together with the runaway slaves, the guerilla slaves, to defeat the slaveocracy. It is very important that you know that because all of it was based on Earth First!
Ruby Dee/narrator: Jose Lopez, Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Chicago, is a professor at Northeastern Illinois University and Columbia College.
Jose Lopez: Today as you think and reflect on the courage and life and legacy of Judi Bari, one of the headlines in one of the major newspapers of Puerto Rico is that the FBI is turning over a million pages of COINTELPRO documents to the Puerto Rican Senate. We discovered that in Puerto Rico 155,000 people, five percent of the adult population of Puerto Rico, had Puerto Rican police and FBI files. This is only the tip of the iceberg. A million pages that will not tell, obviously, the role of the FBI in the assassinations of nearly a dozen Puerto Ricans.
Richard Held went from Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975-76 to go to Chicago. I was jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury in 1977. I was called before that grand jury in 1976. Dozens of Puerto Ricans and their allies were called before grand juries. Many of us went to prison for refusing to testify. Richard Held carried out the operation from Chicago. From Chicago he went to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and ended up as the head of the FBI in Puerto Rico in 1979. How can an empire like this stand before the world and say that it is fighting for democracy and human rights in Kosovo and elsewhere in the world? How is it that a man like Richard Held and people like him continue to be on the payroll of the FBI? On your payroll, because you pay those taxes. Ultimately, what the U.S. is engaged in and has been engaging in for at least the last twenty-five years is a different vision of the world. Throughout the world they are causing problems and damages. And throughout the world people are resisting, in what Subcomandante Marcos calls the pockets of resistance, challenging this empire all over the world. I would hope that you would keep in mind this idea that against the empire of the moneybags is the will of the people in these pockets of resistance.
Narrator: Ramona Africa is the sole adult survivor of the May 13th, 1985, police massacre of 11 men women and children and MOVE members in Philadelphia.
Ramona Africa: Ona Move. Long live Momma, long live Judi. The first thing that I want to say is that Judi Bari was a warrior. She was a fighter. Judi realized what this system is doing to all of us. You know , ain’t no short cuts, ain’t no talking up a revolution. If we truly admired Judi Bari, if we truly believe in what she stands for, then we have to continue that work. Not just leave here today and say it was a good program. That is what the system wants people to do. You know that ain’t getting it. So in the spirit of Judi Bari, Ona Move. Long live Revolution. Long live all freedom fighters. Ona move and long live John Africa.
Music: “Who Bombed Judi Bari,” by Darryl Cherney. “FBI is back again with COINTELPRO. Richard Held is the man they known they trust. With Lieutenant Sims his henchman, it is a world of boom and bust. We will answer with nonviolence, for seeking justice is our plan, and we will avenge our wounded comrade, as we defend the ravaged land. So I ask you know who bombed Judi Bari?”
Ruby Dee/narrator: On May 24, 1990, Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were targets of a car-bomb assassination attempt in Oakland, California as they were on their way to a Redwood Summer organizing event. The bombing was preceded by an aggressive campaign of death threats and harassment aimed at stopping their non-violent defense of Northern California’s ancient redwood forest. Within minutes of the blast, the FBI was on the scene and had Judi and Darryl arrested for transporting explosives. Government agents immediately orchestrated a national media smear campaign, painting these nonviolent activists as terrorists. This campaign was clearly intended to discredit Earth First! and to neutralize the activists’ successful coalition with loggers and timber workers. No legitimate investigation of this near-deadly car bombing was ever conducted. The real bombers were never apprehended, and remain at large. Nearly killed by the blast, Judi Bari was left permanently disabled and in constant pain. She died in March 1997 of breast cancer. Her estate, on behalf of her two young daughters Lisa and Jessica Bari, is pursuing Bari vs. USA, a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Oakland Police.
The Redwood Justice Fund seeks to protect every activist’s right to work for social justice without fear of government and corporate violence and repression. Whenever people resist corporate control of the environment with humor, direct action and successful strategies, and everywhere people stand in solidarity across, race, class and cultural divides, Judi Bari will live on!
“Revolutionary Ecology” was produced by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio. Prison Radio is a project of the Redwood Justice Fund. It was engineered by Anita Johnson and David Kaplowitz. Excerpts of Judi Bari’s speeches were taken from “Who Bombed Judi Bari” on Alternative Tentacles Records.
I’m Ruby Dee. Thank you for listening.
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