Who Bombed Earth First! Organizer Judi Bari?

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In 1990, a car bomb blew up two prominent Earth First! Old-Growth Forests Activists: Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney. Accused by the FBI of bombing themselves, a new documentary tells their story.

Who Bombed Judi Bari?

Despite receiving dozens of death threats, Bari and Cherney were arrested by the FBI and Oakland Police for bombing themselves. The pair went on to sue the authorities for civil rights violations, winning four million dollars, though not before Bari died of cancer seven years after surviving the crippling bombing.

Saving the Old Growth Forests Has Risks

The mystery of who car-bombed Earth First! and labor organizer Judi Bari in 1990 may be solved yet, as far as fellow victim turned documentary film producer Darryl Cherney is concerned. His production company is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrest and conviction of the bomber and self-distributes the movie that Director Mary Liz Thomson and Cherney crafted out of colorful archival footage of the redwood timber wars of the 1990’s.

The 93-minute, award-winning documentary will continue its nationwide theatrical run through Spring 2013.

Who Bombed Judi Bari? chronicles a great, unsolved mystery: who tried to assassinate, on May 24, 1990, one of the most prominent environmental organizers of her day. Bari and her eco-cohort, Darryl Cherney, were car-bombed in Oakland while on a musical organizing tour for three months of demonstrations called the Redwood Summer. The feisty Bari was galvanizing thousands to camp out and protest the clearcutting of the giant trees.

documentary film by Mary Liz Thomson and Darryl CherneyDespite receiving dozens of death threats, Bari and Cherney were arrested by the FBI and Oakland Police for bombing themselves. The pair went on to sue the authorities for civil rights violations, winning four million dollars, though not before Bari died of cancer seven years after surviving the crippling bombing.

Who Bombed Judi Bari? is composed of archival footage including a special Humboldt County live version of “Angel from Montgomery” performed by Bonnie Raitt; a live version of “Shady Grove” by the David Grisman Quintet performing at a tree-sit; rare footage of Woody Harrelson climbing the Golden Gate Bridge as an act of civil disobedience; a tribute to Judi Bari by California Governor Jerry Brown; and a powerful press conference held by the late, legendary environmentalist, David Brower. The movie is narrated by Judi Bari herself, on camera, as she told her life story through her deathbed testimony. As she weaves her tale under oath, the movie flashes back and forth to footage of the daring, action-packed, yet often humorous and musical scenes she depicts. The film features the music of 35 musicians who have supported the environmental movement.

Humboldt California Redwoods

The largest patch of old growth redwood forest remaining in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California. Redwood are the tallest record trees in the world with one specimen reaching: 115.56m. Photograph: Michael Nichols/NG/Getty Images

In 1999, the federal government purchased 7,472 acres of redwood forest from Charles Hurwitz’s now defunct Pacific Lumber Company to create the Headwaters Forest Reserve at a cost of $480 million dollars. The deal brought to a close possibly the most divisive environmental conflict in California history and finally brought a measure of peace to the region.

Cherney is still in court with the FBI today. Part of the post-trial settlement included attaining the right to analyze evidence should the authorities choose to dispose of it. Of great interest are two bombs, both made by the person(s) who bombed Bari’s car. A bombing two weeks earlier on May 8, 1990 targeted a sawmill and failed to explode properly, leaving the device mostly intact. It is this first bomb, which contains about six feet of duct tape, which has tremendous evidentiary value.

newspaper 1990

The FBI, however, refused to turn the evidence over as agreed or test it themselves. Two recent federal court rulings obtained by Cherney ordered the FBI to turn over the bomb remnants to an independent laboratory for testing. It is agreed that the same person(s) made both bombs because an anonymous letter penned by “the Lord’s Avenger” took credit for them, describing them accurately in detail.

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WilderUtopia.com regularly posts articles, photo essays, features, and documentaries from around the web that illuminate the challenges to coexistence between city and wild, developed and developing, human and other.