“On May 24, 1990, a car bomb exploded beneath environmental and labor activist Judi Bari’s car seat as she drove through Oakland, California with fellow activist Darryl Cherney. Judi and Darryl were prominent organizers for Earth first! Redwood Summer, a campaign of nonviolent logging protests.http://www.judibari.org/
Interview With Judi About The Bombing: http://www.monitor.net/monitor/bari/interview.html
Wikipedia Article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judi_Bari
For several years before the bombing, Earth First! had spearheaded a growing movement of public protest and direct action against the big timber corporations’ strip-logging in the redwood region of Norther California. Judi in particular was instrumental in building a coalition of loggers and environmentalists opposed to cut-and-run logging, and in broadening the scope and appeal of the movement. During the month before the bombing, Judi had received a series of written death threats relating her to timber organizing, the worst featuring a photo of her with a rifle scope and crosshairs superimposed on her face. Shortly afterwards, the bomb exploded in her car.
The bomb nearly killed Judi, and left her permanently disabled and in severe pain for the rest of her life. Darryl escaped with minor injuries. But the terror of the attack did not end there. Within minutes of the blast, the FBI appeared on the scene. In defiance of all the evidence, they had Judi and Darryl arrested for possession of explosives, claiming two were knowingly transporting the bomb that had meant to kill them.
These incredible charges were then trumpeted in the national press, with the FBI and Oakland Police (OPD) falsely portraying Judi and Darryl as violent terrorists rather than the targets of a terrorist attack. After eight weeks of public statements from the FBI and OPD vilifying the activists, the district attorney declined to press charges for lack of evidence. To this day the FBI and police have conducted no serious investigation of the bombing and the bombers remain at large.
In 1991, Judi and Darryl filled a federal lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police, charging them with false arrest and conspiracy to violate the activists’ civil rights. The lawsuit charges that the FBI and police knew perfectly well that Judi and Darryl were innocent, and that they were in fact victims of a brutal assassination attempt. Their false arrest was part of an FBI-driven COINTELPRO-style operation to discredit Earth First! and to “neutralize” Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney as organizers.
The most striking evidence in the case is the police’s own photos of the bombed-out car. These photos show that the FBI and police knowingly lied when they rushed to arrest Judi and Darryl for the bombing.
The arrest was based on the FBI’s false claim that the bomb was located on the back seat floorboard when it exploded, and therefore that Judi and Darryl must have seen it and known they were carrying it. But the photos, along with the physical evidence and the findings of the FBI’s own bomb expert, clearly show that the bomb was actually located directly beneath the driver’s seat, and that this was obvious from the damage to the car.
The FBI also claimed that nails taped to the bomb for shrapnel effect were “identical” to nails found in a bag in the back of Judi’s car. In fact, the nails in the bomb were finishing nails while the nails in the car were roofing nails — two types of nails so different in appearance that no honest observer could have mistakenly called them “identical.”
Through the lawsuit’s discovery process, we’ve also learned that the bomb was triggered by a motion device consisting of a large ball bearing that had to roll into place to connect two contact points. In other words, this was a motion-triggered booby trap bomb, set to explode when the car was driven, and wrapped in shrapnel to insure maximum injury to the car’s occupants.
This clearly discredits the FBI’s story that Judi and Darryl were knowingly transporting the bomb to use in some kind of sabotage action. Yet even though the FBI and police retrieved pieces of the motion device within hours of the explosion, they never told the press and they ignored this critical evidence when they arrested Judi and Darryl on charges of transporting explosives.
Even more serious question about the FBI’s conduct have been raised by revelations of an FBI “bomb school” held shortly before the attempt on Judi’s life. According to FBI files and the sworn testimony of Oakland Police and FBI agents, the FBI held a training course for bomb investigator in Eureka, California, in the heart of the redwood region, just four weeks before the bomb exploded in Judi’s car. During the week-long course the FBI blew up cars with pipe bombs and practiced responding.
The teacher at bomb school was Special Agent Frank Doyle, the same FBI bomb expert who showed up at the scene in Oakland and supervised the collection of evidence. It is Frank Doyle who is quoted in the search warrant falsely stating that the bomb was in the back seat and that nails in the car matched nails in the bomb. In the FBI’s own crime scene video, Doyle can be heard joking with his cohorts in an apparent reference to bomb school, “This is it! This is the final exam.”
At the very least, bomb school set up a line of authority that caused the responding officers (many of whom attended the Eureka bomb school) to go along with Frank Doyle when he made false statements about the location of the bomb and the “matching” nails, even though these statements directly contradicted what they saw in their own eyes. At worst, FBI bomb school raises serious questions about the extent of FBI participation in the lead-up to the bombing of Judi Bari, and the possibility of FBI prior knowledge of the attack. ”
Judi Bari died of breast cancer in 1997.
While I’m sure not the only case, this tragic story clearly demonstrates FBI corruption and anti-activism in the U.S. government.
For more Judi Bari recourses:
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