$4 million jury decision upheld for pair of environmental activists who were nearly killed when a bomb exploded in their car. The FBI originally blamed them although they had been receiving death threats from timber industry supporters.
The city of Oakland and FBI have agreed to pay $4 million to settle a case of Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. The two environmental activists nearly died in 1990 when a bomb exploded in their vehicle on the way to a protest. A jury last year found the city of Oakland and FBI had wrongly blamed the pair for the bombing in an effort to silence their environmental activism. By settling out-of-court, the FBI and Oakland have opted not to appeal last year’s jury decision.
The story of Judi Bari and Darryl begins in 1990. Bari and Cherney were both involved in the Earth First movement. They were organizing a major Redwood Summer action that brought thousands of activists to California to protest destructive logging practices.
On May 24th 1990, they almost died.
A motion-triggered pipe bomb exploded in their car. Bari fractured her pelvis and crushed her tailbone. She was left nearly crippled. She died in 1997 before receiving justice in the case.
After their car blew up the Bari and Cherney were arrested. The FBI and Oakland police claimed they were victims of their own misfired bombs. This conclusion was reached even though both Bari and Cherney had been receiving death threats from timber industry supporters.
But when the time came to press charges, the District Attorney declined, citing a lack of evidence. The Oakland Police promptly closed their "investigation." But the FBI continued theirs, telling the media that Judi and Darryl were their only suspects.
Bari and Cherney sued the FBI and the city of Oakland in 1991. The case was still going on when Bari died of cancer in March 1997. Last year a jury ruled in favor of Bari and Cherney.
- Darryl Cherney, Earth First! activist who filed a suit with Judi Bari against the FBI and the Oakland Police Department in 1991, a year after the bombing.