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Judi Bari Bombing (May 24 1990)

Chapter 2 : Pollution, Love it or Leave it!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

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"Since when are humans solely a biological product of wilderness? (What is ‘wilderness’?) If you accept an evolutionary development of Homo sapiens, as I do, it does not mean that you profess a disbelief in God. Quite the contrary. It was God, the Creator, who created humans, who imbued them with a will, with a soul, with a conscience, with the ability to determine right from wrong. It is inconceivable that the Creator would create such vast resources on earth without expecting them to be utilized."

—Glenn Simmons, editor of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 1, 1990.

"Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.

—Edward Abbey

Earth shattering though it may have seemed, the IWW’s victory was both transitory and incomplete, and historical currents would never again mesh as perfectly. To begin with, the strike on the job had taken place only in the Pacific Northwest, and had excluded California at that. The Wobblies recognized one strategic weakness in this situation in noting that the employers could have eventually organized a lockout of that region and relied instead on wood production from the southern or eastern United States. They knew—in the abstract at least—that their victory would never be complete until they organized all lumber workers nationally and internationally.[1] The Wobblies inability to make inroads among the highly skilled redwood loggers of California’s North Coast was especially troublesome, and it portended their undoing. Two companies, Pacific Lumber (P-L) and Hammond Lumber Company (HLC) had each adopted separate techniques that had kept the IWW out and would soon be duplicated by the Lumber Trust elsewhere. That combined with the much larger shockwaves brought on by the Russian Revolution in 1917 conspired against the One Big Union and led to the eventual decline of the American working class as an adversarial force and the liquidation of the forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Although most corporations comprising the Lumber Trust had refused to budge, lest they embolden the Wobblies, there were those that adopted “welfare capitalism” on their own initiative, in which they would provide amenities and benefits to their workers—union or not—in an attempt to win over their loyalty. It was in the crucible of timber worker unionism, Humboldt County, where this was first attempted with any lasting success, by the Pacific Lumber Company (P-L), based in Scotia, beginning in 1909. P-L had discovered that by creating a wide variety of social programs, employee benefits, and community based events, it was able to secure the loyalty and stability of its workforce. P-L general manager A. E. Blockinger described these efforts in great detail in an article featured in the Pioneer Western Lumberman:

"A reading room with facilities for letter writing and any games, except gambling, is easily and cheaply put into any camp. Arrange subscription clubs for papers and periodicals or let the company do it for the men. If you can have a circulating library among your camps and at the mill plant, it will be much appreciated. Let the daily or weekly papers be of all nationalities as represented in your camp. Lumber trade journals are especially interesting to the men and they can and will readily follow the markets for lumber and appreciate that you have some troubles of your own.

“Organize fire departments among your men. The insurance companies will give you reductions in rates for such additional protection while it offers another opportunity for your men to relax and enjoy themselves.

“Shower baths at the camps or mill are easily and cheaply installed. They will be used and appreciated after a hot, dusty day’s work.

“Get your men loyal and keep them so. Let this replace loyalty to a union. The spirit is what you want in your men. Ten good men will accomplish as much as fifteen ordinary laborers if the spirit and good will is there. Treat them right and they will treat you right.”[2]

The employers’ introduction of paternalism achieved its intended goal. The Secretary of the Pacific Logging Congress, an employers’ association had declared in his 1912 report, “The best cure for the IWW plague—a people without a country and without a God—is the cultivation of the homing instinct in men.”[3] When the IWW campaign for the eight hour day ensued in 1917, P-L simply added more programs. Carleton H. Parker, a onetime U.C. Berkeley economics professor working for the War Department as a mediator during the lumber workers’ strike, had previously conducted sociological studies on workers, including agricultural and timber laborers. Parker was familiar with P-L, and had some fairly extensive knowledge of the Wobblies.[4] Some of the latter had been gained through first-hand studies by two of his assistants, Paul Brissenden[5] and F. C. Mills[6] who had posed as IWW members and later produced extensive studies on the organization. Using this knowledge, Parker offered many suggestions to Disque which the latter somewhat reluctantly adopted. The LLLL created social halls for its members and replaced the employment sharks with free employment agencies. The IWW quite rightly recognized these amenities as a means to buy the workers’ loyalty and likely to be liquidated when the employers drive for profits once again accelerated, but this process would take a long time, and convincing the workers of a threat that could take one or more generations to manifest proved futile.[7]

Chapter 1 : An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

The mill men all insist on one thing: that the Government will grant the manufacturers protection from the lawless element of the I.W.W.’s”

—J. P. Weyerhaeuser, 1917

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite,
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might,
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight?
The union makes us strong…

—Lyrics excerpted from Solidarity Forever, by Ralph Chaplin, ca. 1915

The timber industry has, throughout nearly its entire history, been in the control of an elite minority of the very rich and powerful, and they have been especially avaricious, violent, and repressive towards all who would challenge their power. They have also—in spite of a barrage of slick propaganda trumpeting their careful management of the resource—depleted most of the virgin forests of the Pacific Northwest. Many environmental organizations can trace their origins to opposition to such practices, and in the struggles by environmentalists to preserve forestlands, timber workers have had a reputation for being their fiercest adversaries, and in many cases, this is true. Timber workers have a well deserved reputation for being outspoken about the pride of purpose in their job, as well as a deeply ingrained cultural machismo. Yet lumber harvesting and production is historically one of the ten most dangerous jobs in the industrialized world, and timber workers are among those most exploited by their employers. One would logically expect the timber workers to be highly resistant to such treatment, but in recent years they haven’t been. This wasn’t always so. To understand why, one must examine the industry’s origins.

Before the arrival of European-American settlers to the Pacific Northwest, the entire region stretching from northern California to Canada and Alaska from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains was dominated by coniferous old growth forests. At least 20 million acres of this land was forested, dominated by various species of trees, some of them hundreds of feet in height, over a dozen feet in diameter, and centuries or even millennia old.[1] In the southwestern part of this region, stretching from Big Sur to roughly what is now the Oregon state line, in a belt that was at least twenty miles wide for most of its expanse a very unique species of tree dominated, Sequoia sempervirens, commonly known as the California redwoods, some of them standing over 350 feet tall. Their close (and similarly large) cousins, Sequoiadendron giganteum, better known as the Giant Sequoia, only grew in a few isolated spots in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada foothills. These vast forests were far more then the trees, however. Hundreds, if not thousands of plant and animal species lived and flourished within these wooded habitats, and as far as is known, the indigenous population of the Americas had no significant lasting impact on California’s ancient redwood forests, nor did they have any lasting effect on the timberlands of the Pacific Northwest in general.[2] Like the Native Americans, the old growth forests of the Pacific Northwest had remained left more or less untouched for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years.

The coming of the white man changed all of that. The Russians first began exploiting the redwoods for the construction of Fort Ross in 1812, during their very brief settlement there.[3] As more Europeans arrived, the forests south of San Francisco were the first to be logged, usually through clearcutting, until these ancient stands were completely liquidated by 1860. In those days, loggers used hand saws, and felling an ancient redwood could take anywhere from two-to-five days to complete. The redwoods to the north of the Golden Gate in what is now Marin County were logged next, especially along rivers that allowed easy transportation by the available modes of the day. By this time, around 1881, the steam engine had replaced pack animals. Though this first wave of automation did not have a significant impact on the number of workers involved in the logging process, it greatly increased the impact logging had on the redwoods. Entire forests were liquidated, no matter how small the tree, because even the baby trees were used to build the skid roads used for hauling the larger ones. These forests were never replanted, and very few of them grew back, and in some cases, farmlands replaced them. By the beginning of the 20th Century, all but a few of these ancient trees were gone and logging operations migrated north to Sonoma County. One quarter century later, most of these old growth forests were likewise gone.[4]

Redwood Uprising: Introduction

By Steve Ongerth

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.

—Martin Luther King Jr.

I know, I know. I need to write a book about all this. Fighting to save the redwoods, building alliances with the loggers, getting car bombed and finding out what we’re up against not just the timber industry but also the FBI. Then coming back home and ending up back on the front lines again. I fully intend to write about it eventually, but it’s hard to write about something when you’re still in the middle of it.”

—Judi Bari, introduction to Timber Wars, 1994

“All this,” is a very complex and intriguing story (not to mention a call to action), and while most people have never heard it, a great many are at least partially aware of its defining moment.

On the morning of May 24, 1990, two activists, Judi Bari and her friend and comrade Darryl Cherney, set out from Oakland, California, while on a tour to organize support for a campaign they had organized called Redwood Summer. They were part of the radical environmental movement known as Earth First!, which had a reputation for militant tactics, including the sabotaging of logging and earth moving machinery as well as spiking trees—the act of driving large nails into standing trees in order to deter logging operations. The previous year in Arizona, five environmentalists, including Peg Millett and Earth First! cofounder Dave Foreman, had been arrested and charged by the FBI for a conspiracy to sabotage power lines in protest against nuclear power. Some welcomed Earth First!’s uncompromising reputation. Others denounced them as reckless, or even as terrorists.

According to the mainstream media, Earth First!’s radical agenda earned them the animosity of the timber workers whose jobs the environmentalists supposedly threatened. They were described as “outside agitators” (among many other things) who had “polarized” the timber dependent communities of northwestern California’s redwood region—historically known as the “Redwood Empire”, but more recently as the “North Coast”—with their militant and uncompromising “environmental extremism.” Their alleged hard-line anti-logging stances were seen as too extreme even by most environmentalists, and they supposedly stood upon the radical fringes of the ecology movement. Redwood Summer was reportedly planned as a summer-long campaign of direct actions by these “fringe” environmentalists to thwart the harvesting of old growth redwood timber in northwestern California, specifically Humboldt, Mendocino, and Sonoma Counties.

On May 24, however, Bari’s and Cherney’s planned destination was Santa Cruz County, where—just one month previously—power lines had supposedly been sabotaged by unknown perpetrators calling themselves the “Earth Night Action Group”. Just before 11:55 AM a bomb in Bari’s car exploded, nearly killing her and injuring Cherney. Within minutes the FBI and Oakland Police arrived on the scene and arrested both of them as they were being transported to Highland Hospital. The authorities called them dangerous terrorists and accused the pair of knowingly transporting the bomb for use in some undetermined act of environmental sabotage when it had accidentally detonated. The media spun the event as the arrest of two potentially violent environmental extremists.

Songs About and by Judi Bari at the Mendocino County Museum, Remembering Judi Bari Exhibit

¿Quién le puso una bomba a Judi Bari? / Who Bombed Judi Bari? (Spanish Subtitles)

By Darryl Cherney - YouTube, November 27, 2017

Premiering on youtube and winner of 6 awards, this feature documentary filled with music, humor, and inspiration is a blueprint for activism in these more than urgent times. The Martin Luther King of the Redwoods, Judi Bari was an Earth First!er, AFL-CIO and IWW labor organizer, radical feminist, world class orator, author of Timber Wars, fiddler and songwriter, fundraiser, mother of two girls and a force of nature. See why she was car bombed and arrested by the FBI and Oakland Police for the deed done against her. Then learn how to save the forests, forge alliances and beat the feds. Foreign subtitles coming soon. Produced by her organizing partner and fellow car-bomb victim and litigant, Darryl Cherney. Directed and edited by Mary Liz Thomson. You can learn more and purchase DVD's, t-shirts and bumper stickers here: http://whobombedjudibari.com/ You can "like" us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Who-Bombed-J...

The Spotted Owl or: How the Right Won the Working Class

By staff - Cited, November 17, 2017

Judi Bari’s effort to ally forest workers and environmentalists could have changed the course of climate activism forever. Could her parable help us today? 

Cited teams up with Dissent’s Hot and Bothered podcast and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions to tell the story of tree spiking, a Texas millionaire, and the Northern Spotted Owl.

In this hour we look at the jobs vs. environment problem and explore how forest management might be able to mitigate climate change on a massive scale. with documentary filmmaker Mary Liz Thomson, University of Oregon sociology professor John Bellamy Foster, and independent forester Herb Hammond.

Listen to the podcast here.

A Change of Heart—Revolutionary Ecology in a World of Climate Change

By Rob DiPerna - Wild California, June 22, 2017

“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and the people responsible have names and addresses.”

— U. Utah Phillips

Combating global climate change and destabilization, and arresting the human-related causes of these are the greatest challenge of our time, perhaps the greatest challenge in human history. Global climate change and destabilization also bring home the fundamental conflicts between our industrial capitalist way of life and world view and the realities of ecological processes and the limits of the natural world.

As 2017 marks the 40-year anniversary of the inception of the Environmental Protection Information Center, we continue to see examples of how the basic underpinning of the world created by humans is in direct conflict with the world that created us, and how this conflict is leading us toward our own demise as a species as we continue to compromise the life support systems of our planet. Of course, none of this is new and the advent of global and bioregional climate change and destabilization once again has us searching for the root causes of what ails us as people and a societies.

May 24, 2017 marked the 27-year anniversary of the car-bombing of Earth First activists Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney on their road tour to promote Redwood Summer. This upcoming November 3, 2017, EPIC will posthumously award Judi Bari with the Semperviren’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her career of work for environmental and social justice.

Who Bombed Judi Bari? Feature Documentary

By Darryl Cherney - YouTube, Feb 9, 2017

Premiering on youtube and winner of 6 awards, this feature documentary filled with music, humor, and inspiration is a blueprint for activism in these more than urgent times. The Martin Luther King of the Redwoods, Judi Bari was an Earth First!er, AFL-CIO and IWW labor organizer, radical feminist, world class orator, author of Timber Wars, fiddler and songwriter, fundraiser, mother of two girls and a force of nature. See why she was car bombed and arrested by the FBI and Oakland Police for the deed done against her. Then learn how to save the forests, forge alliances and beat the feds. Foreign subtitles coming soon. Produced by her organizing partner and fellow car-bomb victim and litigant, Darryl Cherney. Directed and edited by Mary Liz Thomson. You can learn more and purchase DVD's, t-shirts and bumper stickers here: http://whobombedjudibari.com/ You can "like" us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Who-Bombed-J...

Chapter 38 : Conclusion

In spite of the bombing, Bari had lived, which was a huge miracle by itself, and it is clear that whomever planted the bomb in her vehicle had not intended for her to have done so. The bomber had also not planned on Cherney’s presence in the vehicle (his decision to ride with Bari had been unplanned and made at the last possible moment). The bomb had been meant to kill Bari and her alone, and leave behind a mystery, a discredited leader, and fractured and broken movement. Cherney’s having also been there and having gone through the trauma had created the unintended consequence of providing Bari with a witness who could independently verify and corroborate her every word (which, as it turned out, he did) thus further undermining any case that could be made for her guilt. Nevertheless, the bombing was nothing short of a huge tragedy for Judi Bari, due to the physical and emotional trauma and the intense pain and suffering she endured afterwards. While it may be something of a stretch to say that the bombing ultimately led to Bari’s death (in March 1997 due to breast cancer) even that is not out of the question, and the loss of her life was a major setback to those who would challenge business as usual.

Bari’s and Cherney’s legal triumph was a victory, but not the final victory. The question of who bombed them still remains unsolved, but assuming that Bari and Cherney and their supporters (and to be certain the author is one) are correct, and the bombing was indeed a conspiracy involving both Corporate Timber and the FBI, the answer to the question, “Why?” bears little mystery at all.

Clearly someone was trying to disrupt, discredit, and misdirect the coalescing radical, populist opposition to Corporate Timber on the North Coast, whether they participated in the bombing or not. Certainly, the bombing was itself designed to do that, so it makes sense to conclude that the bombing and the disruption were part of a single, multifaceted effort. If asked, “cui bono?” the most likely answer is a combination of Corporate Timber (namely representatives from all three of the major corporations, Georgia-Pacific, Louisiana-Pacific, and Pacific Lumber) with the help of the FBI with the tacit (or perhaps approval) of the Bush (senior) Administration. The FBI had gone to great lengths to try and discredit Earth First! already in Arizona, and clearly the same telltale signs of a COINTELPRO operation are evident in the Bari and Cherney bombing. If G-P was involved somehow, there is no direct evidence, but evidence of L-P’s involvement is quite readily apparent. As for Pacific-Lumber, Bari and Cherney later discovered a cordial “chummy” letter to FBI Director William Sessions from a Maxxam board member. [1] There is ample indirect evidence and a clear motive linking all three to the bombing.

Chapter 37 : Who Bombed Judi Bari?

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

Now Judi Bari is the mother of two children,
A pipe bomb went ripping through her womb,
She cries in pain at night time,
In her Willits cabin room;
FBI is back again with COINTELPRO,
Richard Held is the man they know they trust,
With Lieutenant Sims his henchman,
It’s a world of boom and bust;
But we’ll answer with non-violence,
For seeking justice is our plan,
And we’ll avenge our wounded comrade,
As we defend the ravaged land…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari, by Darryl Cherney, 1990.

Redwood Summer began and moved forward more or less as planned—in spite of all that happened surrounding the bombing—and Bari and Cherney were not charged and eventually freed. Yet organizers and supporters of Redwood Summer were left wondering who the bomber was, and if they were part of a well organized plot, either by right wing fanatics, Corporate Timber, the FBI, or a combination of all of them. Gary Ball admonished everyone not to jump to conclusions about who planted the bomb, stating, “We’re not getting into conspiracy theories at this point. We’re saying that the police have made an obvious mistake and that they need to do a real investigation to find the criminal who planted that bomb and who is still on the loose.” [1] Although many supporters of Redwood Summer were convinced that the bombing was a conspiracy, there were enough people in Mendocino County reactionary and crazy enough to have acted alone, and the county had a long tradition of such lunatics. As Rob Anderson described it:

“What outsiders (and many insiders, for that matter)—members of the media, politicians, FBI agents, etc.—don’t understand about Mendocino County is its peculiar hothouse political atmosphere—a combination of poor law enforcement, obtuse political leadership, cowboy capitalism, and religious extremism. In this atmosphere, all kinds of twisted and malignant creatures flourish. In fact, at various times, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Leonard Lake, Tree Frog Johnson, and Kenneth Parnell have all lived and flourished in Mendoland.” [2]

Judi Bari herself had agreed that “Mendocino County, as we all know, is known as the largest outpatient ward in America and we who live there are completely used to this stuff…” [3]

Indeed, one week after the bombing, an anonymous letter writer, calling himself (or herself) “The Lord’s Avenger” wrote a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat full of Biblical quotations claiming credit for planting the bomb. [4] On the surface, it was entirely plausible that the bombing was motivated by Christian Fundamentalist anger towards Judi Bari, because of her stances on abortion. It is unlikely, however, that this issue was the primary reason for the bombing—since Bari had been far more vocal about timber and labor issues. [5] There was a strong Christian Fundamentalist streak particularly among the most reactionary representatives of the US Forest Service as well as the least enlightened (and most rapacious) gyppos. [6] Misogyny was no doubt embedded in the bundle of reasons for targeting Bari as well, evidenced by the fact that one of her death threats described her (and her fellow women) as “whores”, “lesbians”, and “members of NOW”. [7] Yet, as will be demonstrated, the Lord’s Avenger letter was more than likely a false lead.

There was also some wild speculation that Darryl Cherney might have planted the bomb himself (unbeknownst to Bari) out of resentment because of their recent breakup as romantic couple, but this theory falls to pieces on the prima facie evidence alone. [8] According to the FBI’s own ballistics evidence, the bomb had a switch, timer, and motion sensor, which meant that it was designed to detonate while the car was in motion during a specific time. It is just as ridiculous to think that Cherney would have knowingly consented to ride in a car containing a live bomb, which he had supposedly armed and positioned, for the purposes of revenge as it is to think that Bari and Cherney would have done so for the purposes of terrorism. In any case, Cherney, who was not mechanically inclined, was not capable of constructing such a device. [9] As Bari related to Bruce Anderson:

“Darryl, first of all, has some of the least mechanical skills of anyone I’ve ever known. I once tried to hire him to hang sheet rock and found him to be unemployable, because he didn’t know how to hammer. And, secondly, whatever else I know about Darryl—Darryl and I have been broken up as a romantic couple for several months now but I love Darryl and Darryl loves me, and there is no question in my mind that Darryl would never, ever do such a thing.” [10]

Veterans of the environmental movement who also had prior involvement with organizations that had been subject to COINTELPRO and COINTELPRO-like infiltration suspected foul play. [11] Dave Foreman, who spoke from first-hand experience, was convinced that it was, and noted the similarities between the bombing of Bari and Cherney and his own legal entanglement over the Arizona 5 case. [12] Certainly, the FBI and corporate timber had several motives. These included:

“Providing police an excuse to search homes and offices associated with the environmental movement in Mendocino County and the Bay Area, removing two of the most high-profile organizers challenging corporate power in California, and contaminating the public image—not only of Redwood Summer, but also of (Forest Forever) and the environmental movement in general with the stigma of violence and lawlessness.” [13]

Four attorneys from Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, Rodney Jones, David Nelson, Steven J. Antler, and Ron Sinoway, calling themselves Northern California Lawyers for an Unbiased Investigation accused the Oakland Police and FBI of incompetence and prejudice against Bari and Cherney. [14] They issued a white paper called “A Position Statement and Legal Evaluation of the Bari-Cherney Car Bombing, which exposed the countless weaknesses in the state’s case against the two. The statement made a convincing case that the bombing was, in fact, a sophisticated plan by the opponents of Redwood Summer to undermine it, perhaps with the complicity of law enforcement agencies. [15]

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