Last October, Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the FBI agents and Oakland Police officers directly involved in the frame-up of Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, targeted in a 1990 carbomb assassination attempt, are not immune from civil prosecution and will be required to stand trial.
We had hoped this would put an end to the years of delay caused by government wrangling over the qualified immunity issue. Yet just one day before the deadline, the Oakland Police Department appealed Judge Wilken's ruling, and on February 10th a commissioner for the Ninth Circuit Court agreed to hear their appeal.
We believe the appeal is baseless, and brought only to delay the case, to wear us down as a political movement and to exhaust our resources. But we are not disheartened. We have won every court battle in the past based on the same incontrovertible evidence of government misconduct, and we're sure to win this one too. This landmark civil rights lawsuit will be brought to trial.
There's still one more chance that we may defeat this latest stalling tactic without going through the lengthy appellate process. On March 13th we filed a motion to dismiss the appeal, charging that it's frivolous and has no basis in the law. If the court agrees with us and dismisses Oakland's appeal, Judge Wilken will likely set the case for trial in early 1999.
The one very negative aspect of Wilken's October ruling was to provisionally grant immunity to Richard W. Held and others of the FBI top brass. At the time of the bombing, Held was Special Agent-in-Charge of the San Francisco FBI office, and we believe orchestrated the FBI's COINTELPRO-style operation against Earth First! in this case. We are shocked that the same judge who has consistently upheld our right to sue the FBI on conspiracy would then allow the conspiracy's mastermind to sneak out the back door.
We are intent on getting Richard Held back into the case as a named defendant . To learn how we know that Held is "the baby" and not just "the bathwater," take a look at "America's Secret Police: FBI COINTELPRO in the 1990s."
Media Disinformation Continues
When Judi and Darryl filed their civil rights lawsuit in 1991, it was with the intention of protecting the rights of all progressive activists. We knew that if this blatant attempt to paint nonviolent activists as terrorists went un-challenged, no environmental or social justice movement could function free from escalating harassment.
But if we had any illusions that the tactic of branding eco-defenders as terrorists was defeated, the Republican Party just gave us a loud wake-up call. At the California State Republican Convention in February, a resolution on "ecoterrorism" was passed calling for, "Congressional hearings on ecoterrorism to be held as soon as possible, with subsequent legislation in 1998 that reclassifies terrorist crimes against multiple-use interests [i.e. ranchers, farmers, dairymen, loggers, etc. using public land] as felonies." The resolution names as acts that should be classified terrorist: "acts of vandalism, malicious trespass and other offenses against multiple use interests," and cites as an example the October 16, 1997 incident in California Congressman Frank Riggs' office, where police swabbed pepper spray directly into the eyes of nonviolent Headwaters forest activists.
To find out who (besides Frank Riggs) was behind the resolution we called its sponsor, Don Amador. Amador immediately began dropping the names of well-known Wise Use movement proponents, including Ron Arnold and Barry Clausen. Amador himself is a member of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, an off-road vehicle club similar to the Sahara Club that wants all public land, including wilderness areas, open to off-road vehicles. It's one of the more right-wing of the anti-environmentalist Wise Use groups.
Wise Use organizations were created in the mid-1980s by corporate timber and mining interests specifically to counter the successes of the environmental movement. They call for the opening of all public lands to mineral and industry production and the dismantling of the Endangered Species Act, among other things. They also openly advocate the use of "dirty tricks" against environmental activists to achieve their goals -- things like fake press releases and disruption.
We ask you to help us expose and defeat this
dangerous new strategy to demonize and criminalize defense of the environment,
and stop the Republican "Ecoterrorist Resolution" before it's gone too
far. If you live in Northern California, Frank Riggs' campaign events
are one place to counter these lies and disinformation. No matter where
you live you can contact your local congressional representatives, and
both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees where such hearings would
be held. Tell them to Investigate environmental destroyers, not environmentalists!
|Senate Judiciary Committee
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), Chair
Sen.Ted Kennedy (Ranking Democrat)
|House Judiciary Committee
Rep. Henry Hyde (R), Chair
Rep. John Conyers (Ranking Democrat)
On February 27, state and federal officials announced an agreement with Maxxam Corp.'s Charles Hurwitz on a deal that will release thousands of acres of ancient forests in Headwaters Forest to Maxxam/Pacific Lumber's chain saw. Because of the habitat conservation plan component of the deal, it will actually result in less protection for ancient trees and the species that depend on them than the existing laws and precedents, despite its hefty $380 million price tag.
Provisions of the deal include legalized destruction of habitat vital to the severely endangered marbled murrelet. This includes the famous Owl Creek Grove, kept standing for over 10 years by litigation and Earth First! direct action. The deal also contains completely inadequate provisions for protecting the endangered coho salmon, replacing a prohibition against further harm to species on the brink of extinction in Headwaters with untested "management practices" that rely on the "good faith" of Pacific Lumber and Charles Hurwitz. In fact, the plan gives no permanent protection to areas recognized as critical habitat of the forest species, but is an amendable, 50-year management plan to be carried out by a corporation with a record of violating state and federal law and ignoring worker safety.
Earth First! activists continue the fight to preserve all 60,000 acres of the Headwaters Forest. For more information about nonviolent direct action to save the Headwaters Forest, call Earth First! at (707) 468-1660, or write them at 106 W. Standley, Ukiah, California 95482.