Submitted on Mon, 03/12/2012 - 8:32pm
By Fellow Worker x344543, March 11, 2012
I knew it was a bomb the second it exploded. I felt it rip through me with a force more powerful and terrible than anything I could imagine. It blew right through my car seat, shattering my pelvis, crushing my lower backbone, and leaving me instantly paralyzed. Slumped over in my seat, unable to move, I couldn’t feel my legs, but desperate pain filled my body. I didn’t know such pain existed. I could feel the life force draining from me, and I knew I was dying. I tried to think of my children’s faces to find a reason to stay alive, but the pain was too great, and I couldn’t picture them. I wanted to die. I begged the paramedics to put me out.
--Judi Bari, 1994
Darryl Cherney's and Mary Liz Thompson's new documentary, Who Bombed Judi Bari? takes a thorough look at the deposition of the late Judi Bari as she testified, under oath, about the car bomb that nearly killed her and fellow organizer Darryl Cherney on May 24, 1990.
Bari was both a radical environmentalist--having been a major figure in the Earth First! movement from 1988 until her death from cancer in 1997--and a class struggle unionist, having been a rank and file dissident in the Retail Clerks and Postal Workers Union in the 1970s. She was also a delegate and organizer in the IWw, having joined the One Big Union just after becoming active in Earth First!
Bari intoduced class analysis and class struggle to the Earth First! movement in a whole new way, making it a point to focus efforts to preserve old growth redwood forests in northwestern California at the point of production, reasoning--rightfully so--that the (capitalist) system that exploits the earth is the very same which threatens the livelihoods of timber workers (it is also the same system that perpetuates racism, sexism, and other forms of oppression--a point that Bari made frequently).
Because of Bari's efforts, Earth First! (and the IWW) in Humboldt and Mendocino COunties were able to somewhat effectively counteract the efforts by timber corporations like Georgia-Pacific, Louisiana-Pacific, and Maxxam to drive wedges between timber workers and environmentalists. At one point, Bari and fellow IWW organizer Anna Marie Stenberg even represented G-P Mill Workers in an Osha case against the company when their business union, IWA Local #3-469, collaborated with management against the workers. She also represented the widow of an L-P mill worker, Fortunado Reyes, who was killed in an accident in the non-union L-P mill in Ukiah. She worked with dissident Pacific-Lumber workers in raising awareness about Maxxam's takeover of that company and why the new regime was bad for both the forest and the workers. Due to her relations with timber workers, she convinced Earth First! in northern California and southern Oregon to renounce the tactic of tree spiking, which was of dubious effectiveness at saving forests and certainly hazardous to mill workers. She even convinced contract logger Ernie Pardini to conduct the very first tree sit by a logger in 1993.
As Fellow IWW member and Earth First!er Darryl Cherney states in the film, "if there was one thing that corporate timber feared more than anything else, it was that radical environmentalists would unite with rank and file timber workers, and because of her effectiveness in doing that, Judi bari was targetted. She did something nobody else (in Earth First!) did, and that was organize rank and file mill workers into the IWW."
The bombing took place in Oakland on May 24, 1990. The Oakland Police and the FBI named Bari and Cherney as the only suspects in the bombing that nearly took their own lives, arguing instead that the two knew they were carrying the bomb and were planning to use it in an act of "eco-terrorism". The evidence for such a plot is nonexistent, however, and in fact suggests that the FBI not new that these charges were false, but in fact deliberately lied about them to frame Bari and Cherney in order to discredit them. Further evidence suggests that the FBI and the timber industry may have collaborated in a COUNTELPRO style operation to manufacture the whole incident from the get go.