By MICHAEL SCHREIBER
On April 8, the case of Judi Bari v. the FBI will be heard in a federal courtroom in Oakland, Calif. The trial begins almost 12 years after Earth First! organizers Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney were injured when a bomb exploded in Judi’s car.
The bomb attack took place on May 24, 1990. At the time, Bari and Cherney were on tour for Redwood Summer, organized to save the forests from the timber corporations. While Bari clung to life in the hospital, the FBI and police filed charges against her and Cherney, alleging that the two victims had placed the bomb in their own vehicle. Police ignored evidence that might have led to the real bombers.
Bari and Cherney were smeared in the media as terrorists. Their successes in uniting environmentalists with timber workers was overlooked.
But now the FBI and Oakland police are themselves on trial, facing charges of false arrest, illegal search and seizure, and conspiracy to violate Bari’s and Cherney’s First Amendment rights. The suit is being brought by Cherney and by Bari’s estate (Judi died of cancer in 1997).
Judi Bari will testify by means of a video presentation. FBI and Oakland police officers will also take the stand. The list includes Special Agent Frank Doyle, who claimed that the bomb had been visible on the floorboard of the back seat, when it had really been hidden under the driver’s seat.
And Special Agents John Conway and Phil Sena will be asked about their spying on Earth First! activists.
Earth First! points out that “in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and the continuing attacks by the government on our civil liberties, the bombing case has become more relevant than ever. It demonstrates how the government uses ‘terrorism’ as cover to target activists, and it’s a symbol of how the new ‘war on terrorism’ will be used to crush dissent.”
The group reports that a congressional hearing was convened in February on “eco-terrorism.” “The star witness was none other than James Jarboe, the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Section Chief, who named so-called ‘eco-terrorists’ the number one domestic terrorist threat in the U.S.! …
“And Jarboe didn’t miss the opportunity to point a finger our way, claiming that the dangerous new environmental terror network was an offshoot of Earth First!
Judge Wilken has scheduled six weeks for the trial, beginning on April 8, which means it will probably wind up around the May 24 anniversary of the bombing. Proceedings will take place Mondays through Thursdays, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse at 1301 Clay St. (near 12th St.) in Oakland. The trial is open to the public, and all supporters of protecting the environment and our civil liberties are urged to attend.