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2002-04-09

Earth First! Organizers Take On the FBI

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Yesterday morning, jury selection began in the case of Judi Bari vs. the FBI, almost twelve years after Bari and fellow Earth First! organizer Darryl Cherney were car-bombed in Oakland. On May 24, 1990, a bomb exploded in a car driven by long time environmental activists Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. That spring, they were organizing a major Redwood Summer action that would have brought thousands of activists to California to protest destructive logging practices.

The bomb nearly killed Bari. It fractured her pelvis and crushed her tailbone, leaving her crippled and in constant pain.

The FBI and the Oakland Police Department quickly arrested Bari and Cherney, claiming the pair were victims of their own bomb which had misfired. Over the next week, the FBI repeatedly claimed to have found evidence linking Bari and Cherney to the bomb. But two months after the bombing, the District Attorney declined to press charges, citing a lack of evidence. But although the case against them fell apart in a few days, the investigation continued for three years, casting a cloud of suspicion over the environmentalist movement as a whole.

A year later, Bari and Cherney filed a federal civil rights suit against the FBI and the Oakland Police Department, claiming the two bodies had violated their civil rights in an attempt to discredit Earth First! and its political message. In March 1997, Bari died of breast cancer.

Guests:

  • Dennis Cunningham, lawyer for Judi Bari, environmental, labor and social justice leader who organized against the logging of California’s redwood forests
  • Darryl Cherney, Earth First! Activist, plaintiff in civil suit against FBI, and bombing victim

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